Brazil have always produced excellent players that have gone on to achieve greatness in Europe – Ronaldo, Romario, Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Kaka – the list goes on and on. There has been a recent trend where Premiership clubs have poached youngsters from Brazil and only had to pay compensation or small transfer fees, as in the case with twins Rafael and Fabio joined Manchester United. Here are ten of the best Brazilian youngsters who could take the Premiership by storm in the future. Some have already agreed terms with Premiership clubs, some have just been linked with moves to England. Here are the top ten, in no particular order:
(Internacional, soon to be Tottenham)
The Internacional midfielder is set to join Tottenham in the summer, after being linked to Spurs for the last year. A commanding defensive midfielder and known for his ruthless tackling and amazing stamina, Sandro may not be the creative and skilful player that we have come to expect of Brazilians, but he makes up for that with his constant energy, quickness and defensive ability.
(Fluminense, soon to be Arsenal)
The 17 year old Brazilian is one of the best players in his age group for Brazil and has already signed a £3.5 million with Arsenal, but cannot join the club until he turns 18 in 2011. A deadly striker that can also operate on the wing, Wellington Silva is technically fantastic, has great football intelligence and is excellent on the ball. Set to become a world class player for Arsenal and Brazil in the future.
The Brazilian defender, whose full name is Jose Rodolfo Pires Ribiero Dodo, was set to join Manchester United this year, after agreeing a £5.4 million deal with the club last summer. Even though reports said Dodo had signed with United, it turns out that they now just have first option to sign him for £8 million. Now 18, Dodo is benefitting from learning under Brazilian legends Roberto Carlos and Ronaldo at Corinthians, which can only make him a better player. Dodo can play at left back and centre back and mixes that South American flair, pace and skill with a European toughness.
The 18 year old striking sensation has been labelled the “new Robinho” and has been linked with all the big clubs already, with the likes of Chelsea, Man City, Man United, Arsenal, Barcelona and Real Madrid. Skilful, trickly, with bags of pace and confidence, Neymar scored three goals in his first five games for Santos and looks like the real deal. Santos have slapped a £31.5 million price tag on the player, who is under contract until 2014. Manchester City have first refusal on Neymar, but Robinho has warned the Brazilian prodigy against a move to either City or Chelsea.
Walter, or Walter Henrique da Silva, is a 20 year old striker that hit the headlines when he was the top scorer in the under 20 South American cup, with 5 goals. His performances for Internacional have alerted the likes of Juventus, Man United and Barcelona, who are all interested in signing the striker.
Lulinha has been dubbed the “new Ronaldinho” and is a player that has been on the radar of the big clubs for years. The classic Brazilian number 10, Lulinha operates as an attacking midfielder or a second striker and possesses a fantastic array of tricks and flicks, defence-splitting through balls and assured finishing. Corinthians slapped a £24 million price tag on Lulinha, to ward off interest from Chelsea and Manchester United. Now 19, Lulinha is spending a year on loan at GD Estoril-Praia.
(Vasco de Gama)
The 17 year old midfield prodigy was signed by Inter Milan in 2008 for €3.8 million, but loaned back to Vasco for two years until he turns 18 in July. Obscenely talented, Coutinho is one to keep an eye on but considering the competition for places at Inter Milan, with the likes of Diego Milito, Mario Balotelli and Samuel Eto’o all vying for places, Coutinho will find it hard to break into the side. You never know, a move to the Premiership could become a possibility in a few years time.
The midfielder has been labelled the “new Ronaldinho” (a regular theme with any young Brazilian midfielder, as most of them are even the next Ronaldinho or Robinho), and was heavily linked with a move to Man United last summer. The former Gremio prodigy, 19, possesses all the skills that Ronaldinho has: a free kick specialist, with quick feet, a vast array of tricks and the ability to beat even the toughest of opponents. Douglas Costa signed with Ukraine side Shakhtar in January for €12 million, following in the footsteps of his countryman Elano. Costa made his debut in the Europa League defeat to Fulham and although he has signed a five year deal, it is rumoured that he only signed to impress Europe’s big clubs and earn a move to Man United.
(Barcelona, on loan at Fiorentina)
The 21 year old striker has been dubbed the “new Romario” and signed for Barcelona in 2009 for £15 million, after impressing in Brazil with Palmeiras. A real poacher will silky passing, Keirrison is a real threat in front of goal, but attitude problems have marred his time in Europe so far. After a failed stint at Benfica, Keirrison is now on loan at Fiorentina, where has scored one goal in 6 substitute appearances. The problem for Keirrison is the amount of competition in the Barca attack when he returns, with the likes of Messi, Henry, Bojan, Pedro and Ibrahimovic all vying for places, and the Brazilian prodigy has been heavily linked with a move to Liverpool.
The 21 year old prodigy has obviously benefitted playing alongside Ronaldo for Corinthians, and has a release fee in his contract for 36 million euro’s. Dubbed the “next Robinho” (surprise surprise!), Dentinho has plenty of natural ability, but has improved his positional play and is now willing to run more at opposition defender’s. He plays as a second striker, but there are fears that he is too small and too slight to make it in the Premier League, but that has not stopped the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Man United and Real Madrid all being interested in Dentinho.
Follow Tom Jinks on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tomjinks