Joao Miranda's route to the top has been nomadic and unorthodox, which plenty of frustration along the way. Manchester United's latest target has had to draw on deep wells of resilience and self-belief to reach the top - but anyone who saw him this season would think he'd been playing at the highest level all his life.
The 29-year-old started his career at Coritiba and after a difficult spell with French side Sochaux he went back to his homeland to play for Sao Paulo. Undeterred by his failure in Europe, Miranda led his side to three domestic league titles in a row, being selected in the "Brazilian XI of the year" in four successive years from 2007 to 2010.
In January 2011 Atletico Madrid secured his services on a free transfer, but his career really began to take off when Diego Simeone arrived at the Vicente Calderon in December.
Miranda scored Atlético's third goal in their 4–1 Super Cup victory over Chelsea in 2012 and became a Rojiblanco hero last season during the Copa del Rey final over Real Madrid, scoring a winner header in extra time.
Many pundits in Spain believe Miranda has been the best centre-back in La Liga during the last two campaigns and it has been a surprise that Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari has left out him of the World Cup squad – alongside his team mate Filipe Luis.
Standing at 6ft 1in, Miranda is a solid defender who could be a perfect replacement for Nemanja Vidic, alongside another centre-back more able to shape the game.
More physical than talented, Miranda is very quick with the tackle and always looks to be in the right place at the right time.
Even though he is very combative, he has only been booked five times in 35 La Liga games this season and has only received one straight red card in his career. He also offers considerable aerial prowess, having scored 10 goals for Atletico during his 142 games at the club.
He has forged an impressive duo with Diego Godin, with Atletico conceding just 26 La Liga goals this season, fewer than any other club in Spain.
Miranda is perhaps not talented enough to shape Manchester United's game from the back - at Atletico, this role is shared by Godin and Filipe Luis.
Furthermore, he is used to playing in Diego Simeone's deep-lying system – similar to that used by Jose Mourinho at Chelsea - where all eleven players are committed to defence and the centre-backs are not required to run a high line. At Manchester United with Van gaal, a historically offensive team and manager, he would have to lead a defence much less protected than at Atletico.