5 Next-Generation Brazilians Ready to Shine This Season
With the new season now just days away in top-flight divisions around Europe, attentions are beginning to shift to making predictions as to which players will step up their performance levels in the coming year.
As ever, there have been a raft of Brazilian imports into European football and, for many, attention will be on which of the young generation of potential stars can step up ahead of the World Cup next summer.
There will be many potential candidates to stand out this campaign, with many of those already in their second or third season on the Old Continent hoping to step up to the very top level.
Which five next-generation Brazilian talents will be ready to shine this season?
Lucas Moura (Paris Saint-Germain)
A big season lies ahead for PSG winger Lucas Moura as he looks to build upon a bright start to his career in France.
He was not consistently at his best in his first six months in Paris, but Lucas showed flashes of the excellence that prompted PSG to part with €45 million to secure his services last summer.
For the World Cup 2014 hopeful, the key now will be to prove that he can make an impact on a regular basis in European football. Glimpses of talent will not be enough long term, and he must step up a level in the coming year.
He will almost certainly attend the World Cup, but will he do enough to earn a place in the Brazil starting lineup?
Bernard (Shakhtar Donetsk)
The €25 million arrival of Bernard at Shakhtar Donetsk was announced on Thursday morning in a move that signals the Ukranian side's renewed intent to challenge the established European elite.
A lively attacking midfielder, Bernard was an integral member of the Atletico Mineiro side that recently won the Copa Libertadores title. That title, though, was to be the high on which his Galo career would end.
For Bernard, like Lucas, the chance of securing a starting role for Brazil next summer remains a distinct possibility, but much will depend on his and Shakhtar's showings in the Champions League this season.
He has the talent to step up and immediately become an important player for his new side, but will he be able to settle into his new surroundings? Fans of the selecao will be hoping that he can.
Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain)
PSG have once more shelled out an astonishing amount of money this summer, with €35 million defender Marquinhos joining Edinson Cavani at the Parc des Princes.
The 19-year-old has just over one year of senior football to his name, having only broken into the Corinthians first team shortly before his 2012 move to AS Roma. In Italy though, he quickly became one of Europe's most-sought-after young players.
A brilliant reader of the game for a player of his age, as well as being a wonderful athlete, Marquinhos is seen as the future of Brazil's centre-back position. First, though, he must prove himself at a club hoping to challenge in the very top echelons of European football.
Playing alongside Thiago Silva, he will have an ideal mentor in Paris but will have to cope with pressure like he has never known before following his massive transfer this summer.
Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool)
When Liverpool secured the £8.5 million signing of attacking midfielder Coutinho in January, there was much debate about whether the former Vasco da Gama player could build upon his early potential.
However, his first six months in England have been outstanding and, as a result, he has now propelled himself to the forefront of Liverpool's planning moving forward.
The 2013-14 season will be an important stage in the young midfielder's career, with expectation levels now having significantly increased following his initial success. It also appears, following preseason, that Coutinho will be handed a central creative role for the coming year.
Should he continue to perform as he has done for a complete season, then a late run for a place at the 2014 World Cup is a possibility. Handling the weight of expectation, though, will once more be an important test for the youngster in the coming months.
Alex Sandro (Porto)
Porto full-back Alex Sandro has spent two seasons in Europe now since his 2011 transfer from Santos, and the Brazilian kicked on last campaign after a slow start to his career in Portugal.
A stunningly quick and technically gifted full-back, he will now be expected to play an important role in a Porto side that has once more undergone a rebuild this past summer.
Now 22, he remains unlikely to make the World Cup next summer, but an impressive campaign could always see that change. Marcelo aside, Brazil currently have no clear preferred choice for the squad's left-back roles.
Last season, there were signs that Alex Sandro would kick on and cement his reputation as one of the best young full-backs in Europe. Another good campaign this year and there is no doubting that vultures will start circling over the young left-back.
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