Julio Cesar Baptista, better known as Julio Baptista is a Brazilian football player who is currently a free agent. He has played in a range of positions throughout his career but mostly impressed as a central attacking midfielder during his spell with Spanish club Sevilla.
Baptista started out at his boyhood club Sao Paulo in Brazil. He mostly featured as a defensive midfielder after having signed professional terms at Sao Paulo in 2000. He made 75 appearances for the club in three seasons during which he found the back of the net seven times.
He was signed up by Spanish Andalusian side Sevilla for a sum of 3.75 million USD on August 3, 2003. Baptista was handed the No. 19 shirt at Sevilla, where he was predominantly used as an attacking midfielder who operated as a link between the central midfielders and the center forward.
The 35-year-old settled in pretty quickly at Sevilla as he banged in a couple of goals in a 4-0 win over Racing de Santander. His good form persisted throughout the court of the season leading to inquiries from several big European clubs including Arsenal.
However, he chose to remain with Sevilla, for whom he scored 25 goals in his second season. The attacking midfielder hit the back of the net 50 times in 81 appearances for Sevilla between 2003 and 2005.
Despite interest from Arsenal, Baptista was signed up by Spanish giants Real Madrid in the summer of 2005. He signed on the dotted line for a reported fee of 20 million Euros rising to 24.5 million Euros. Real also acquired the services of Sergio Ramos and Robinho the same season that they captured Baptista, who was awarded the No. 8 shirt.
However, his move to Madrid did not quite work out as he struggled to replicate his form. With Zinedine Zidane and Guti occupying his preferred central role, Baptista was played on the wings. He managed to score eight goals for the Los Blancos in his debut season with the club.
The summer of 2006 saw Arsenal take a keen interest in the player but Baptista had dismissed a move saying that he wanted to succeed in Madrid. That did not stop the Madrid giants from trading him for Jose Antonio Reyes in a year-long loan deal.
Baptista struggled to get used to life in the fast and physical Premier League but did well in the Cup competitions, especially the league cup. He scored six goals in the competition as Arsenal reached the final including four goals against Liverpool in a 6-3 home win.
However, he managed just three strikes in the Premier League and one Champions League goal during his stay with The Gunners.