In 2008 a record 1,176 Brazilian footballers left their homeland to ply their trade abroad, 762 of them ended up in Europe with Portugal unsurprisingly the most popular destination. In total 209 players headed back to the ‘motherland’ while Germany claimed 58, Switzerland took 46 and Spain snapped up 34.
The figure represented a 8.4% rise in Samba Stars fleeing for foreign lands compared with 2007.
The maths demonstrate that the production line of talent in Brazil shows no sign of letting up.
Another trend creeping into the Brazilian transfer system is players leaving for distant shores at a younger age. Long serving international full-backs Cafu and Roberto Carlos spent a collective 11 seasons in their native top flight before securing moves to Europe.
Their replacements Dani Alves and Marcelo played one season of senior football a piece before heading to Spain with Sevilla and Real Madrid respectively.
This precedent seems set to continue with the emergence of the Da Silva twins at Manchester United. Left-back Fábio made a handful of appearances for Fluminense while the Brazilian public never saw his brother Rafael play in their domestic league.
The twins were snapped up by Sir Alex after impressing in a tournament for the Fluminense youth team and they also lit up the under-17 World Cup wearing the yellow and blue of Brazil.
The boys have now been approached to represent Portugal and until they gain a first team cap for Brazil there will always be a suspicion that they yet switch their allegiance.
The most exciting Brazilian prospect maybe still be on the fringes of the national setup but is already well established at the San Siro. Alexandre Pato was snapped up by AC Milan after making only 10 starts for Brazilian club Internacional.
These developments have led the Brazilian football authorities to outlaw footballers moving abroad before the age of 18 and not allowing players under the age of 16 to sign professional contracts.
Even with these caveats in place the exodus will continue and here are a few of the Boys from Brazil who are waiting in the wings to breathe new life into the seleção.
Full Name: Anderson Hernanes de Carvalho Andrade Lima
Birthdate: 5/28/1985, Age 23
Place Of Birth: Recife
Position: Defensive Midfielder
Team: São Paulo
A born reader of the game Hernanes does not seem to have any obvious weakness to his play.
He helps out in defence with brave tackling and intelligent marking as well as driving his team forward with an eye for a pass and the ability to hit the target with both feet.
Another asset of his game currently being enjoyed by the São Paulo faithful is his deadly accuracy from freekicks.
It’s this embarrassment of talents that won Hernanes the Premio Craque do Brasileirao (domestic player of the year) last term. The midfield dynamo was also recently voted The Top Rising Talent in Football by The Times newspaper.
Playing his football at São Paulo has inevitably led to comparisons with a young Kaká who also started his career with the Morumbi club.
Hernanes natural game however is more in line with a Cesc Fabregas or even Kaká’s San Siro teammate Andrea Pirlo.
At 23 Hernanes could be viewed a veteran in terms of talented youngsters plying their trade in the Brazilian league. The trouble is that the supremely talented midfielder finds himself in a Catch 22 situation.
Seleção boss Dunga is sticking with the European based duo of Gilberto Silva and Felipe Melo in the middle of the park and interested parties, such as AC Milan, want to witness Hernandes on the international stage before taking the plunge on him.
Full Name: Keirrison de Souza Carneiro
Birthdate: 12/3/1988, Age 20
Place Of Birth: Dourados
Free scoring Keirrison has been doing the business in the Brazilian leagues for three years now. He broke through with Coritiba and his goals helped the club reach the top flight with back-to-back promotions.
Keirrison prolific record alerted him to Palmeiras, especially when he scored past them in a 2-0 win on his way to becoming Campeonato Brasileiro Série A 2008 joint top scorer with 21 goals.
The youngster joined up with Palmeiras at the start of 2009 but his contract is shared with Traffic Sports Marketing. This year Keirrison has continued to bag domestically as well as in the Copa Libertadores.
The latest suitor for the hitman is Rafa Benitez’s Liverpool who hope to sign up Keirrison before the end of the season.
The Merseysiders face competition from AC Milan according to Corriere dello Sport. Rossoneri Technical Director Leonardo is reported as viewing Keirrison as the natural successor to Pippo Inzaghi at the San Siro.
“Keirrison is maturing well,” The World Cup winner said. “I’m impressed that he can play with both feet.”
However both Liverpool and AC Milanhave a battle on their hands as Keirrison sees his future at Camp Nou.
“I have seen a lot of games when Romario and Ronaldo were there,” The player said. “and that made me dream that one day I would play in a great club like Barcelona.”
Full Name: Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior
Birthdate: 2/5/1992, Age 18
Place Of Birth: Mogi das Cruzes
A photo of Neymar in his Santos jersey is enough to draw the comparison of the ‘new Robinho’ but this lad also has the box of tricks to match the mugshot.
Although the lively striker has only started a handful of games for Santos he has already caused quite a stir away from the pitch.
Real Madrid are believed to have had their fingers burnt with a pre-contract agreement they signed with the player’s agent up until 2011. Unfortunately for Los Blancos the player is under contract with Santos until 2015 and Real will still have to pay a bumper transfer fee should Neymar move to the Bernabéu.
The striker did actually have a spell playing for Real’s youth team but Santos were able to coax their precious gem back home.
Praise for the lightening paced forward has also attracted attention from Manchester United’s scouts and Neymar has been identified as a prospect by Pele himself.
“He’s a great player and could become a great footballer,” The Brazilian legend said. “He must work hard in training at Santos, but he has some good qualities.”
It remains to be seen when Neymar will eventually leave Brazil but there is no doubt his pace and instinct for goal mean he will represent the seleção one day in the future.
Full Name: Luiz Marcelo Morais dos Reis
Birthdate: 10/4/1990, Age 18
Place Of Birth: São Paulo
Position: Attacking Midfielder
This diminutive attacker honed his skills playing Futsal from the age of eight and was spotted by Corinthians. Lulinha quickly rose up through the ranks and less than 10 years later he made his first team debut.
Lulinha then burst into the Brazilian national consciousness with 12 goals in 7 games as Brazil won the 2007 under-17 South American Championships.
His performances did not escape the attention of the scouts in the stands and a tug-of-war began between Corinthians and suitors from Europe. The matter was eventually resolved with ‘Lula’ signing a contract extension with the São Paulo club through to 2012.
Two years on and Corinthian President Andres Sanchez’s valuation of his prize asset has not altered, “"to take him off Corinthians, the interested club would have to pay 35 million Euro ($45 million).”
The price tag may suggest that Lulinha is already the finished article but that is far from the truth. The 1.70m tall attacker has only managed three goals in over 70 appearances for his club.
While he can boast a variety of flicks and tricks as well as a potency from deadball situations it remains to seen whether his lack of bulk will count against him as his career progresses.
Full Name: Douglas Costa de Souza
Nickname: Douglas Costa
Birthdate: 14/9/1990, Age 18
Place Of Birth: Sapucaia do Sol
Position: Attacking Midfielder
After starring at junior level Douglas Costa is making the step up this season and is revelling in his break through to the Grêmio first team.
His international development is also ticking over nicely as demonstrated by his performances in Brazil’s triumph in the 2009 under-20 South American Championships.
The advanced midfielder pulled the strings in midfield as he helped his country to their tenth title in the competition.
Douglas Costa is another starlet who is as comfortable striking a moving ball as he is dispatching a freekick.
Similar to Hernanes at Sao Paulo and Neymar at Santos, Douglas Costa is compared to Ronaldinho, the last household name to have been reared at his club.
Grêmio have reacted to the interest shown in him by Juventus and others by inserting a $30 million release clause in his contact.
Very real interest was shown in the player recently when Villareal tested the water with a $10 million bid. The Yellow Submarine’s advances were flatly rejected.
Although young in his years Douglas Costa already has the sense not to rush his big move but allow matters to run their course.
“ I do not know about any interest from other teams,” The youngster explained. “My preference is to play for Grêmio and win many trophies here.”
Copyright © Tim Sturtridge & Soccerphile.com