Which Brazilian Players Could Return Home for the 2013 Season
The Brazilian league's renaissance continues apace with the news over the past two weeks that World Cup winning defender Lúcio and Leverkusen midfielder Renato Augusto have signed deals to return to the country in January.
Corinthians' recent success in the Club World Cup provided a further shot in the arm for the competition and, for the first time in many years, it appears that in 2013 there will be several clubs in the Brazilian top-flight who could at least compete at the top end of European football.
The past few days have been a swirl of both truthful and nonsensical transfer speculation, with players, agents and media outlets catching on to the increased buying power of the Brasileirão's giants.
So, let's try to sort the wheat from the chaff and discover which Brazilian players have a realistic chance of returning home in 2013.
Alexandre Pato (AC Milan)
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According to reports in both Brazil and Italy, a €15 million deal to take striker Alexandre Pato to São Paulo giants Corinthians is as good as complete. Indeed, we are now just awaiting official confirmation.
The move, which would likely see the Club World Cup champions purchase 50 percent of the forward's economic rights, would be a major coup for the Brasileirão and the most important repatriation to date.
Pato, just 23, is regarded as one of the country's biggest stars and his arrival, whilst still at such a young age, would be a major indication of the league's improvement.
Corinthians have also spoken of their confidence that the star can overcome his recent injury nightmare at the club—a major worry for anyone looking at signing the Brazil international.
More on why Pato might consider a return to his homeland can be read here.
Robinho (AC Milan)
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The possible transfer of Robinho back to Brazilian football is going to be far from simple. As much as the player is doing his best to talk himself into a move, his €10 million price tag and huge wages are prohibitive to many clubs.
Flamengo, under a new management structure, looked into the signing but have decided to pull out of the race due to the costs involved. Santos have stressed they won't participate in an auction, while Atlético Mineiro are looking at their options before committing to a deal.
AC Milan, though, are keen on shifting the player in order to free up some spending money and CEO Adriano Galliani has suggested that former club Santos will be his likely destination.
With the Peixe looking to bring in Argentine Walter Montillo from Cruzeiro, funding is going to be tight. The club are offering players to Cruzeiro to bring down costs in that deal, while the help of a major sponsor could help finally return Robinho to the club on a permanent basis.
Elias (Sporting Lisbon)
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Elias became Sporting's record signing when he joined the club for €9 million from Atlético Madrid in 2011, but is no longer regarded as a first-team regular at the Estádio da Luz and is anxious to move on.
Flush with cash from their recent sponsorship deal with Adidas, Flamengo have reportedly identified the international midfielder as an ideal target for the club as they look to rebuild following a dismal 2012 campaign.
There are issues, though. The former Corinthians player is believed to be considered too expensive by the club's new board, who are set to be more prudent than the previous regime, but there is hope that a loan move could smooth over the financial difficulties.
Elias, himself, is believed to be keen on a move with the clock ticking ahead of the 2014 World Cup and his selection chances slipping away by the week.
Another player seemingly heading in the direction of Club World Cup champions Corinthians is Valenciennes defender Gil—with the two clubs reportedly close to striking a €3.5 million deal.
A commanding figure at the heart of the defence, the former Cruzeiro player has been a key player for the Ligue 1 side this season. However, having already been persuaded to stay on after a bout of homesickness last January, he looks set to be allowed to return home this year.
Corinthians are looking to rejuvenate what is an ageing selection of centre-backs at the club and Gil is seen as an ideal candidate to lead the club into the 2013 Copa Libertadores.
Michel Bastos (Lyon)
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Lyon winger Michel Bastos has been linked with a return to Brazilian football for some time now, with Coritiba the club most frequently mentioned in connection with his services.
That rumour, admittedly, has always seemed unlikely given Coritiba's limited finances and, earlier this week, it emerged that Dunga's Internacional were considering an offer for the out-of-favour midfielder.
Dunga, of course, frequently used Michel Bastos at left-back in his time as Brazil boss and, given Inter's more affluent status, looks a far more likely move should Bastos seek an escape route from France.
The player, himself, gave some far from convincing quotes this week about hoping to remain at his present club, but it seems Lyon would like to shift his sizeable wages off their payroll.
Carlos Eduardo (Rubin)
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The 25-year-old attacking midfielder Carlos Eduardo is another who has suffered major injury problems over the past couple of seasons, playing just eight league games for Rubin since a €20 million move from Hoffenheim in August 2010.
In Germany, he had excelled and in the process earned a handful of international caps, so his ability is undeniable. With Rubin now seemingly set to cut their losses, there is big talk of a free-transfer move to Fluminense in January.
The Tricolor Carioca are known to be thinking of parting with forward Rafael Sóbis, and Carlos Eduardo is potentially a very good replacement if he can stay fit upon returning to Brazil.
The potential holdup to the transfer, though, will be interest from Grêmio—the club that brought the forward through their ranks and allowed him to train with them in early 2012 while regaining fitness.
The player's love for the club is well-documented and the Gaúcho giants may decide to return one of their best youth products in recent years to his former home.