Chennaiyin rope in Rafael Crivellaro as their latest foreign recruit

Two-time Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) champions, Chennaiyin FC confirmed the acquisition of 30-year-old attacking midfielder, Rafael Crivellaro on Wednesday. The Brazilian is the ninth player and sixth foreigner to join John Gregory’s men ahead of the upcoming 2019-20 season.

Born in Porto Alegre, Brazil, Crivellaro spent his youth career at local club, Internacional and Italian top-division outfit, Empoli. After spending three-fourths of the 2009-10 season on the bench at Guaratinguetá, the midfielder finally made his senior professional debut on October 2010, coming on as a late second-half substitute. That unlocked the first-team door for Crivellaro as he followed it up with six more appearances for the Brazilian club that season.

The following year, he moved to Portugal and signed for Vitoria Guimaraes, where he would go on to spend the best years of his career. During the four-year spell at the club, which also included a brief loan stint at C.D. Trofense in the 2011-12 season, Crivellaro played more than 70 matches, scoring five goals and assisting a further three. He also made a UEFA Europa League appearance in that period.

In the years that followed, the midfielder represented clubs hailing from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Poland, Portugal and Iran. His most prolific campaign in front of goal came in the 2014-15 season while playing for Ajman Club. He scored five times and provided three assists for the club in 13 appearances. Portuguese top-tier side, C.D. Feirense were the last team that the 30-year-old represented before coming to India.

Upon putting pen-to-paper for the Marina Machans, Crivellaro expressed his delight and said, “I am very happy to join Chennaiyin FC, a new experience in a new country with a lot of new hopes and expectations. Along with my new teammates, I hope to have a great season. I have also heard a lot about the city and the club's passionate supporters. I am really looking forward to my time in Chennai and India.”

In an exclusive interview with the club, the Brazilian further added, “I have heard only good things about the club. In fact, Chennaiyin's former captain (Henrique) Sereno and I spoke, and he told me how well-organized the club is, how it is a family atmosphere and most importantly how supportive the fans are. The project at Chennaiyin is also something I felt I would like to be a part of.”

When asked what he would bring to the table for the Chennai outfit, he commented, “I would describe myself as more of a technical player who likes to build play as well as attack. I like to focus on passing, technique, control and organization. I am really looking forward to connecting with my teammates and bringing the best out of each other as we work towards achieving success in the coming season."

Gregory likewise, was ecstatic on the move and was confident the midfielder will have a big say in their season. “Rafael is a quality addition to our squad, having plied his trade at the top level in Europe and Asia. His experience, technical ability and reading of the game will surely boost our ranks as we aim to challenge again for the Hero ISL title. He comes with a lot of experience and will surely have a positive impact on our playing style,” said the Englishman.

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