FIFA Confederations Cup: 6 Hottest Transfer Targets to Watch in Brazil
As a prelude to next year's World Cup, the FIFA Confederations Cup will take place in Brazil later this month.
The ninth edition of the competition will see Brazil, Japan, Mexico and Italy do battle in Group A, while Spain, Uruguay, Tahiti and Nigeria meet in Group B.
With that being said, scouts are sure to be keeping an eye on events in South America, whether it be to better understand the relative strengths and weaknesses of the eight national teams or to get a closer look at some of the stars on show.
With the latter in mind, here's a look at six of the hottest transfer targets to look out for in Brazil later this month.
Bernard (Brazil & Atletico Mineiro)
The diminutive attacking midfield arrives at the competition after a stunning 12 months for club side Atletico Mineiro.
Fleet of foot with terrific pace and capable of creating chances for others or finishing moves himself, the 20-year-old has emerged as a potential match winner and someone who can ease the weight of expectation on Neymar's shoulders as the Selecao chase a sixth World title next summer.
Having played a key role in Galo's run to the Copa Libertadores semi-finals, Bernard has since made three appearances for the national team and will be looking to impress at the Confederations Cup to cement his place in the squad heading onwards.
Europe has woken up to the thrilling youngster in recent months and Champions League finalists Borussia Dortmund have been heavily linked with a move, recent reports in Rio de Janeiro suggesting a €16million bid has been made, according to Brazilian outlet Uol ( via NZWeek.com).
Although the likes of Hulk, Oscar, Jadson and Lucas Moura are all vying for similar positions in Scolari's squad, expect to see Brazil's bright young thing throughout the next month. If he impresses, you'll certainly end up seeing much more.
Paulinho (Brazil & Corinthians)
A vital part of Corinthians' Copa Libertadores and World Club Cup successes last year, the powerful midfielder has become an increasingly important part of Luiz Felipe Scolari's XI.
A genuine box-to-box midfielder capable of making last ditch tackles in one area before looking to get a strike on goal in the opposing box, the 24-year-old has been linked with a move to Europe with Inter Milan, having come close to conducting a deal in January according to Folha de Sao Paulo (via Football-Italia).
However, having chosen to remain in his homeland the Brazilian has recently denied that any deal is done and that there is still nothing official:
"When I receive an offer, I will make it known. But there is still nothing official," he told the media after a Corinthians game last month.
He'll likely play a key role in Brazil's Confederations Cup defence, having won the trophy for a third time in 2009 and if Paulinho suitably impresses then expect the rumour mill to go into overdrive with regards a move across the Atlantic for the Timao star.
Ideye Brown (Nigeria & Dynamo Kyiv)
The 24-year-old striker has enjoyed something of a nomadic career thus far, having played for clubs in France, Switzerland and his homeland before his 2011 transfer to Ukrainian powerhouse Dynamo Kyiv.
Last season the centre forward was impressive for both club and country, playing his part in the Super Eagles' Africa Cup of Nations success (although somewhat in the shadow of tournament top scorer Emmanuel Emenike) while scoring 21 goals in 40 matches for his club.
According to Sky Sports his goalscoring prowess has made him a target for a number of Premier League clubs and Brazil will be a suitable shop window for the player, whose agent is quoted as stating his interest in a move to England:
"I am aware of interest from several Premier League clubs in Brown," said Hootan Ahmadi.
"Brown is keen to move to England and to play in the Premier League. We will assess all offers this summer before considering our options for Brown."
Jesus Navas (Spain & Sevilla)
The quicksilver winger is now 27 years old and, having seen Sevilla miss out on European competition with a ninth-placed finish in La Liga this season, is being increasingly tipped to make a move from the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan to pastures new this summer.
Additionally, the World Cup and European Championship winner, who has overcome severe issues of homesickness in his younger days to win such prestigious titles, is also quoted as saying: "Manchester City are a team I like."
Though not nominally a starter for Vicente Del Bosque's all-conquering outfit, the pacy, direct Navas has often proven a game-changer from the substitutes bench, offering a more direct track to goal than La Roja's usual tiki-taka approach.
While Manchester would appear his most likely destination, Real Madrid could yet offer competition for his services—according to the Independent—having this week confirmed the president Florentino Perez will remain for another four years.
Edinson Cavani (Uruguay & Napoli)
The Uruguayan striker will not leave Napoli this summer for a penny less than his €63million buy-out clause, such is the insistence of president Aurelio De Laurentiis, who told fans on Twitter (translated by Gazzetta dello Sport):
"His contract lasts another four years and there's a clause which prices him at €63million.
"The offers we have received have not come anywhere near that."
Nonetheless, according to the Metro, the reigning Serie A Capocannoniere could still make a move to the Premier League with Manchester City and Chelsea both interested in the 26-year-old.
One of world football's premier strikers, his recent showings on the international stage have been pretty sub-par, including an anonymous performance in Uruguay's last match with Chile back in March.
He'll no doubt be hoping to prove himself on the world stage in Brazil later this month.
Alessio Cerci (Italy & Torino)
Having made his Serie A debut nine years ago as a 16-year-old for Roma, it's fair to say Alessio Cerci's career is yet to reach its initial expectations.
He would make only 12 more league appearances for the Giallorossi across six years, before a two-year stint at Fiorentina. Last summer he moved to Torino for a mere €2.6 million.
Nonetheless, a strong debut season in Turin, encompassing eight goals and eight assists in 35 appearances has put him firmly on Cesare Prandelli's radar and has led to his first three international caps.
A tricky winger with a powerful left foot, from his nominal position on the right-wing Cerci has already shown in his brief international career thus far that he has something to offer the Azzurri moving forwards.
According to La Stampa (via Football Italia), Cerci is a main summer target for AC Milan as they look to mount a greater title challenge to Juventus next season. A positive showing in Brazil won't do any harm to Cerci's chances of securing a move to one of Italian football's grandest clubs.