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When you say ‘Brazil’, you hear football. The nation has an unrivalled track record of churning out technically gifted youngsters and the current generation of ‘kids’ isn’t short on quality either. Here we run through the 10 best wonderkids currently in the Brazilian ranks.
Here is a kid who has more tricks than a magic box. Antony is a left footed right midfielder and spends most of his time terrorising the full back who is unfortunate enough to come up against him with skills and an incredible burst of pace.
Antony possesses massive potential but still has areas he needs to develop including the use of his weaker foot and his final ball, as supported by his record of just one goal and two assists in 19 games for Sao Paulo – although he does have a goal to his name with the Brazil under 23 side after just a trio of caps.
Paulinho joined Bayer Leverkusen from Vasco Da Gama in a deal worth near on £14m in July 2018 but was used sparingly throughout the season averaging just 25 minutes of playing time per match (across 21 appearances). In that time it was clear to see that Paulinho has something to offer with good hold up play and confidence with the ball at his feet.
So far this season he has only featured for seven minutes meaning his overall contribution to Leverkusen since his move is just the one goal. He had stronger numbers in Brazil with five goals and three assists in 24 matches but given time in Europe he’s more than able to improve on those numbers.
8. Mauro Junior
Junior, who plays either behind the striker or on the right wing, has flirted with a first team spot at PSV over the past two seasons. During the 2017/18 campaign, he split his time between the first team and Under 21’s, who play in the Dutch second tier and contributed well; for the first team he netted once and assisted a further four goals in just 582 minutes across 15 games.
Last season, Junior spent most of his time with the youth side – although he was named on the bench for Champions League matches against Barcelona and Tottenham – and notched six goals and provided a further three for teammates giving him a goal involvement every other game. The PSV hierarchy highly rate the 20 year old and he’s started the season on loan with fellow Eredivise team Heracles Almelo; so far he’s made six appearances, five as starts, and has a goal and assist to his name already.
7. Luan Candido
This 18 year old left back, who can play further forward if required, recently joined RB Leipzig in a deal worth £7.2m from Brazilian club Palmeiras. Despite his promise, Candido is yet to make a first team appearance for either of his club sides but has racked up 12 caps for his country’s youth teams (eight under 20 and four under 17). Candido has a strong left foot, is decent in the air and always looks to contribute to attack; perhaps his one drawback is that, like many young full backs, he is better on the ball than defending it but if he can develop in that area he’ll be one mightily impressive talent.
Flamengo would seem to have a highly prized asset in their ranks in the shape of 17 year old creative midfielder Reinier. The youngster has only had 129 minutes on the field but has already contributed a goal and assist for his team and it’s expected his involvement will increase rapidly.
Reinier has a phenomenal knack of getting his body between the defender and ball, which when combined with his neat footwork makes him a challenging proposition to get the ball off. He’s much more than a bag of tricks though; he’s captain of the Brazil under 17 side and has chipped in with a goal every two matches for his team.
Emerson is probably not a surprise inclusion on our list but he was the centre of an unusual transfer this summer. The right back, who is capable of playing on the left, made his first foray into men’s football in his native Brazil with Ponte Preta and Athletico Mineiro before a loan spell in Spain with Real Betis. Earlier in 2019, Barcelona splashed out to sign him but having stumped up half of the transfer fee (£5.4m) the talented defender joined Betis with Barca having an option on him in a couple of years time.
Whether Emerson ends up at the Nou Camp or not remains to be seen but two assists in four games this season, in which he’s played every minute, is a good start and it is only a matter of time until he turns out for the Brazilian national team to add to his 13 youth caps.
4. Gabriel Martinelli
Martinelli, who can play anywhere across the front line, had trials with two of the biggest clubs in the world in Barcelona and Manchester United in his early career but neither opted to sign him. He went about his business with Ituano where he grabbed six goals in 17 games and his performances earned him not only a call up to the Brazil training preparation for the Copa America but also a £6m move to Arsenal.
Since arriving in England, Martinelli has been very much on the periphery with just six minutes of league football to his name but, having recently scored a brace in a League Cup tie more opportunities will surely await and he will likely grab that chance with both hands.
Pedrinho is the oldest player on this list at 21 but he’s still early on in his development. The right winger has been learning his trade with Corinthians over the past few years; he made his breakthrough in the 2016/17 season but only played 241 minutes across 14 matches – he bagged one goal. It proved enough for him to be involved further and he contributed four assists in 41 appearances last year but his real progress has come this season.
The 21 year old has always had quick footwork but he has began to add an end product to his game and he’s established himself as a key player and has been involved in eight goals, scoring six, in 22 games.
When you make your breakthrough into the professional game at the age of 16 and then find yourself jetting in to sign for Real Madrid in a deal worth over £40m then you know you’ve got a chance of getting to the top.
Rodrygo came through the ranks at Santos and made his debut towards the end of the 2016/17 campaign before taking centre stage the next season, which he did with nine goals and three assists in 43 games. The following season started in similar fashion as he created two goals and bagged one for himself in just four matches before Madrid came sniffing. Rodrygo is awaiting his debut for the Spanish giants but he promises to be a star for club and country for years to come.
1. Vinicius Junior
Last summer Real Madrid parted with over £40m to land Vinicius from Flamengo – like Rodrygo, that perhaps tells you a lot about his potential and since heading to Spain he has kicked on a level. The left winger turned out on five occasions for Castilla, Real Madrid’s development side, in the third tier but four goals and one assist in those appearances proved him too good not to be involved in a struggling first team.
Vinicius didn’t really stand out in La Liga with a solitary goal and two assists in 18 games, albeit only averaging 48 minutes on the pitch per match, but he made his Champions League bow and starred in the Copa Del Rey by scoring two goals and a laying on a further seven in just eight appearances. The teen sensation has pace and power in abundance and isn’t short of a trick or two so it has been no surprise to see him feature in every match for Zinedine Zidane’s team this term and, on September 11th, he deservedly made his senior international debut for Brazil.
There you have it, our top 10 Brazilian wonderkids. Every player listed has the capability of making it to the very top but there are a lot of ingredients included in the recipe for elite success and for every Cristiano Ronaldo there is a Freddy Adu. Who do you think stands the best chance of reaching the heady heights of global fame? Or perhaps you see some of them ending their career as simply bog-standard. Either way, let us know below.