Premier League Transfers: 7 Best Brazilians Linked with Moves to England
With the notion that they are not suited to English football now widely dismissed, Brazilians are playing an ever increasing role in the continued development of the Premier League.
Last summer, Chelsea added playmaker Oscar to the Brazilian ranks that helped secure Champions League success, while Manchester United's Rafael has upped his game to put in some top-class performances this season.
It would appear, then, that the country's footing in the upper echelons of the English game is only set to increase in coming years and, unsurprisingly, it is suggested that there are more to follow.
Rarely a week now passes without more players being linked so let's take a look at the seven best Brazilians currently linked with moves to England.
No. 7: Matheus Indio (Vasco)
Brazil Under-17 squad member Matheus Indio shot to prominence in the English media recently having spent a week training with Premier League side Arsenal in London.
Having turned 17 just this last week, though, it would only be in the summer of 2014 that the young midfielder could legally make any move to Europe.
Reports in Brazil, for instance this from Lancenet, suggest the visit was more about gaining experience than any possible transfer. However, they do concede that Arsenal may have preference in any future battle for his services.
Matheus told Globo Esporte ahead of the trial: "I’m anxious for this new stage in my life. I’ll spend a week at Arsenal. It will be cool, I hope I enjoy it. Of course I have the dream of playing for a European club, but everything has its right time. It will be a good experience. I want to learn.” (H/T 101 Great Goals)
A pacy attacking midfielder, he lists Neymar, Ganso and Coutinho among his idols, while it is Theo Walcott who catches his eye at Arsenal. For the moment no deal is close, but it is a possible transfer to watch long-term, perhaps.
No. 6: Neilton (Santos)
Early last month it was reported that Chelsea are looking to sign Neilton, another small, vibrant forward from Santos FC in the mould of Neymar (via the Mirror).
The timing of such reports, whether truthful or not, was easy to understand. Santos were crowned champions of Brazil's premier youth football competition at the beginning of January, and it was Neilton who had starred in the latter rounds.
In truth, though, Neilton had not been expected to have such a major impact. The lively second-striker began the tournament as a substitute and only earned himself a place in the side after a handful of impressive appearances off the bench.
Impress he did and, in the final rounds, he was undeniably the decisive player for a team boasting quality throughout its ranks.
Capable of playing off the main striker or from the flank, Neilton is a slightly different style of player to Chelsea's own Lucas Piazon, for example. The forward offers lightening acceleration, technical ability and excellent finishing ability.
His work rate, talent and attitude have never been questioned, but his ability to consistently produce to the best of his ability still remains a question mark.
No. 5: Bruno Gomes (Desportivo Brasil)
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One of the undisputed stars of youth football in the South American country at present, 16-year-old Bruno Gomes could be Manchester United-bound when he turns 18 next year should the club take up their first-option agreement on the player (via the Daily Mail).
The striker boasts a quite phenomenal goalscoring record over the past 12 months, despite being younger than most of his opponents.
As Terra explain, Bruno struck 27 times in the 2012 Under-17 Paulista state championship for his side having scored 30 at Under-15 level the year before. In his comments to Lancenet following the achievement, he confirmed "I already have future plans with Manchester and hope to make history at the club."
The striker has been a frequent visitor to England for training periods for some time now, as one of several Desportivo Brasil youngsters developed in partnership with the Red Devils.
The player himself appears confident of a move and, with him currently scoring goals for fun at all levels, his move to Manchester United appears a mere formality given the existing agreement.
No. 4: Fernandinho (Shakhtar & Brazil)
Over the past few seasons, box-to-box midfielder Fernandinho has without doubt been one of the most consistent performers of what is a very good Shakhtar Donetsk side.
With that in mind, added to his excellent Champions League performances in this current 2012-13 season, it is no surprise that he has been heavily linked with a move to either Manchester United or City in recent months (via the Mirror)
It would be a deserved move for the dynamic midfield player who is unlucky to have dropped out of the current Brazil reckoning after a series of good performances for the Selecao alongside Lucas Leiva in 2011.
The former Atletico Paranaense man would be a hugely useful addition to either side, in a similar mould to Chelsea's Ramires. He can play nearly any midfield role required, with perhaps a little more finesse than the Blues star.
For all the recent praise of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and the now-departed Willian, it has been Fernandinho who has been the central cog of Shakhtar's side in recent times.
His industry, positional awareness and skill on the ball will be greatly missed when or if he eventually does decide to move on.
No. 3: Paulinho (Corinthians & Brazil)
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Corinthians took no prisoners en-route to much merited successes in the Copa Libertadores and Club World Cup in 2012 and midfielder Paulinho was very much at the heart of everything good that the team produced.
Alongside defensive midfield rock Ralf, whose role shouldn't be forgotten, Paulinho helped ensure that the Timao emerged with the best defensive record in Libertadores history. He also contributed much to the team's attacking play.
A powerful presence in the centre of the park and now a regular for Brazil, Paulinho has a wonderful ability to arrive late into the box and score goals. He is something akin to a Brazilian Frank Lampard in that respect.
The midfielder would be well-suited to England if a move were to happen. A partnership with national-team colleague Ramires at Chelsea would surely be of great benefit to both players long-term also.
No. 2: Leandro Damiao (Internacional & Brazil)
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Tottenham's pursuit of Brazil striker Leandro Damiao seems to have dragged on for far too long, but wise money would be placed on the target man making a summer move to White Hart Lane.
Leandro has not been in the best of form since the 2012 Olympic Games, but there is no doubting his potential. Indeed, given his formidable physical attributes, there is not a league worldwide to which he would not be suited.
The theory is that Spurs will need to sell current high-earner Emmanuel Adebayor to justify the expense of recruiting Damiao. Andre Villas-Boas, though, is a fan of the Brazilian and would likely be happy to make such a trade to get his man (via The Independent).
Tall, strong and technically adept, Damiao is surely the long-term future of the Brazil No. 9 shirt, even if he has temporarily lost his place at the present time.
His goalscoring form throughout 2011 and 2012 placed him right among the elite of South American strikers and, at 23 years old, there is surely much more to come.
No. 1: Neymar (Santos & Brazil)
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At present, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi somewhat unobtainable, Brazilian superstar Neymar is the holy grail for 2013 as far as several European sides are concerned.
In England, while Chelsea may now be considered to be out of the reckoning, it is Manchester City who appear to be leading the charge for the Santos forward (via the Daily Mail).
They will, though, face fierce competition from Europe with news this week that Pep Guardiola's FC Bayern side will make a summer offer for the star to rival likely destination Barcelona (via Metro).
Wherever he ends up, Neymar is going to become a truly special player. That destination looks unlikely to be the Premier League at present, but there is no reason why it could not happen.
Brazil legend Pele has recently expressed doubts over Neymar's suitability to the physicality of the Premier League (via the Mirror), but the truth is that the extravagant Santos star could succeed anywhere.
His signing would be the biggest transfer coup of the current Manchester City owners thus far. He is a potential world-beater.