10 Up-and-Coming Brazilians to Watch in 2013
As a country, Brazil churns out footballers both in great quantity and of great quality. Indeed, it is truly remarkable how many Brazilians are earning a living as a professional footballer worldwide.
Each year, new youngsters emerge onto the scene in great numbers. Most will never go on to achieve greatness, but in every batch there is almost guaranteed to be one who will go on to influence proceedings at an international level.
Next year will be no different and there are a host of talented players looking to take the next major step in their career as 2013 arrives on our doorsteps.
This list is by no means exclusive, but let's look at 10 youngsters who will be looking to make their mark in the coming twelve months.
Wallace will head into 2013 in the knowledge that a big year lies ahead for him on both a professional and personal level. His transfer to Premier League giants Chelsea is already confirmed for next summer, but the actual arrangements are yet to be confirmed. A loan move has been suggested.
A chance to really make an impression in 2013 will present itself almost instantly, with the South American Under-20 Championship beginning in Argentina on Jan. 9.
Wallace will likely start at right-back in the tournament with the chance to book a place at the summer's Youth World Cup the prize.
Quick and powerful, Wallace's physical and technical abilities are undoubted. He has the potential to be a fine full-back for both club and country, which Chelsea have duly noted. However, it will be how he matures in terms of positioning and judgement that will determine whether he fulfils his potential fully.
Bernard (Atlético Mineiro)
Atlético Mineiro attacking midfielder Bernard has enjoyed a fine 2012 campaign and was, last month, rightfully named as the Brazilian Championship's Revelation of the Year.
Slight and nimble, the Belo Horizonte-born youngster is a ball of energy and has proved himself capable of dragging his side through difficult games.
His link up play with the experienced Ronaldinho has been wonderful to watch at times, with his pace and industry complimenting the unique talents of the former Barcelona star perfectly.
The next challenge for the double act will be the 2013 Copa Libertadores, South America's premier club competition. A good showing in the tournament and Bernard will know a place in the Brazil squad ahead the 2014 World Cup.
With both 11 goals and 11 assists to his name this Brasileirão campaign, European clubs are already watching and it may well be that before the year is up, he is taking his next step in what threatens to be an excellent career.
Another player heading to the South American Under-20 Championship is Grêmio defensive midfielder Misael—a veteran of the 2011 Under-17 World Cup. He is yet, though, to make the progression to first-team level.
Next year is set to be a big step in the youngster's development, with the possibility of two major international youth tournaments, as well as a planned promotion to Vanderlei Luxemburgo's first-team squad.
With fine close control and a aesthetically pleasing short-passing game, Misael attempts to assert his control on matches from the base of midfield. His work-rate and core strength also mean that he plays a key role in his side's defensive unit.
The player is expected to be a first-choice selection for the Brazil Under-20 side this season.
Alex Teixeira (Shakhtar Donetsk)
Shakhtar Donetsk have been widely praised for their showings in the Champions League this season. And, while it has predominantly been Willian and Fernandinho lapping up the plaudits, fellow Brazilian Alex Teixeira has also quietly been turning in consistently good performances this season.
Shakhtar have also dropped just three points in 18 games domestically this season and Alex has played a major role in that achievement as the team's second top scorer, with eight goals to his name.
Fast across the ground and a fine dribbler, the former Vasco da Gama player has come of age to see off positional rivals Dentinho and Douglas Costa in Ukraine and make a first-team place his own.
With the scouts of Europe's biggest sides frequent visitors to the Donbass Arena in recent times, it surely won't be long before it is Alex's name regularly featured in the back pages of papers Europe-wide.
Marquinhos (AS Roma)
We've discussed Marquinhos a few times in recent weeks, such has been the remarkable progress he has made since moving from Corinthians to Roma this summer.
Just 18 years old, the centre-back was expected to make little impact at the Italian giants this season as, in Argentina's Nicolas Burdisso and countryman Leandro Castán for competition, he had two experienced and respected rivals for a first-team spot.
He has since become more important to the Giallorossi than either player.
Wonderfully composed, Marquinhos has proven himself to be a brilliant reader of the game and that attribute, when combined with his speed, means he is seldom found out of position.
He is not the tallest or broadest of centre-backs, but he has shown great desire throughout his career, while his speed and ability to out-jump many opponents has meant that he more than competes against Serie A's more rugged strikers.
Withdrawn from the South American Under-20 tournament in order to represent his club, the Youth World Cup should await next summer for the youngster. A good end to the league season and that might not be the only World Cup that Marquinhos will play in the next 18-months.
Léo Baptistão (Rayo Vallecano)
One of the revelations of the 2012-13 La Liga season so far, Brazilian Léo Baptistão has plundered six goals and four assists from his 15 appearances ahead of the winter break.
Given that the 20-year-old had been playing B-team football until recently, his initial returns have been phenomenal and have catapulted him into the eye of the Spanish media—with links to Atlético Madrid already emerging.
Able to play a variety of forward roles, Léo is a rounded player who offers both enough physicality to play as a target man and the dribbling skills to play in the positions just off a central striker.
January transfer rumours have been dismissed by the player, but should his form continue, a summer transfer is a nigh-on certainty. With Spain keeping a close eye on his international eligibility, he may just find that new Brazil boss Luiz Felipe Scolari is inclined to test him at an international level sooner rather than later.
Dória, like Marquinhos, is another impressively mature defender for his age. Just 18 years old, he has shot into the Botafogo first-team this campaign and not once looked out of place.
A fine tackler and good man marker, Dória may not possess the pace of his colleague at Roma, but he offers a bit more physicality and a similarly good reading of the game. He, likewise, will surely go far in his career.
The opportunity to find out may not be too far away, with an €8-9 million move to Juventus reportedly close to completion. Stories have since emerged linking the defender with a last-minute bid from Roma, but whatever happens—he is a man in demand.
Next week he will lead the Brazil defensive line at the South American Under-20 Championship, in what will be the latest test of his abilities. A good showing there could set him up for a long and prosperous career with the national team.
Lucas Piazón (Chelsea)
Following Chelsea's 8-0 victory over Aston Villa in late December, the Blues' faithful were purring with delight following a delightful late cameo from Brazilian forward Lucas Piazon—making his league debut.
Lucas, 18, has surprised many with his development at Chelsea, with many observers unsure as to his potential to translate good showings at youth level in Brazil into English football. He has, though, proved his doubters wrong.
Although it can be said he has still to test himself fully at senior level, Piazón has shown enough at the club to suggest that he will succeed. Within six months of his arrival, he was promptly voted the club's Youth Player of the Year last campaign after helping his side to a convincing success in the FA Youth Cup.
While he will continue to pick up infrequent first-team opportunities at club level, for the time being, this summer could well offer Piazón a shot at the Under-20 World Cup. The tournament will be a chance for the player to remind those back home of his talents, after 18-months out of the limelight.
Bruno Mendes (Botafogo)
Signed by Botafogo in September, 18-year-old striker Bruno Mendes enjoyed a phenomenal end to the 2012 season—scoring six times in eight league appearances.
The young forward led the line with an authority that many of his elder colleagues had failed to demonstrate and gave experienced defenders a torrid time with his combination of work-rate, technical ability and strength.
Bruno will lead the line for the Brazil Under-20 side this month and, with strong competition from São Paulo's Ademilson, will need to prove that his end to the 2012 season was no flash in the pan.
Links with a move to Juventus have been quietened for now, following the recent news that he would remain at Botafogo on a permanent basis. Impress for club and country in the coming months, though, and his club may be forced to hold of suitors once more next summer.
Manoel (Atlético Paranaense)
Still just 22 years old, Manoel is a centre-back in need of the next step in his career having spent the 2012 Brazilian season helping his Atlético Paranaense side recover their Série A status.
Long considered one of the most promising defenders in the country, Manoel has simply outgrown his club and if he is to develop as his talents suggest, the time has come to look elsewhere.
Fast, supremely powerful and a dominant header of the ball, the defender has many of the natural attributes needed to be a top defender. He also possesses a wealth of experience amassed over four years of regular first-team action, but must now prove himself at a big club.
A move to Europe may not be necessary—he could easily prove himself at one of the country's giant clubs, such as Corinthians or Flamengo. Show similar form at either of those sides and a call-up to the Seleção would not be long in the making.