What Does the International Future Hold for Lucas Moura, Damiao and Pato?

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What Does the International Future Hold for Lucas Moura, Damiao and Pato?
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Luiz Scolari's 23-man squad for the upcoming FIFA World Cup held few surprises, but he has still managed to generate fierce debate. The Selecao's form has been on the up-and-up for the past 12 months, and Big Phil would have been foolish not to place trust in those who have served him so well.

But the cast list for the event of the summer has left a plethora of players pondering what the international future holds for them.

Lucas Moura, a squad member at the 2011 Copa America, the 2012 Olympics and last year's Confederations Cup, has constantly found playing time hard to come by under Scolari and has finally been outed, at arguably the most crucial time for Brazil in over 60 years.

His multi-million pound move to Paris Saint-Germain last year made it seem that the national side was the next natural step for the former Sao Paulo prodigy. But his emergence comes at a time when Brazil is flooded with players capable of playing across the attacking-midfield front line.

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Lucas' move to PSG made the Selecao seem the next natural step.

Oscar grabbed his chance in 2012 with both hands and has never let go. In Scolari's 4-2-3-1 formation, with Neymar a given on the left and the Chelsea playmaker in the traditional No. 10 role, that only leaves space out on the right-hand side, behind Fluminense forward and target man Fred.

With Scolari preferring Hulk and Bernard, Lucas cannot get a look in. He has not played for Brazil since a 2-0 win over Zambia on October 15.

For it is the attacking sector that Scolari has really gone with the tried and tested. In defence and midfield there are what may be considered relative gambles.

Henrique, of Napoli, and Fernandinho, of Manchester City, have been given a chance despite lacking in international experience.

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Fernandinho has received a World Cup call-up despite lacking in international experience.

But an offensive quintet of Fred, Jo, Neymar, Hulk and Bernard is as safe as could be from Felipao's point of view. Those players have been in possession of Selecao shirts for a year.

And that means there is no way in for Leandro Damiao and Alexandre Pato, who both made their ways through the ranks at Porto Alegre club Internacional.

At various times over recent years, the pair have been considered the future of the Brazilian strike force.

Alexandre Pato burst onto the scene as a teenager with Internacional before moving to Italian giants AC Milan. At the San Siro he showed signs of early promise and was progressed rapidly to the national side, scoring his first goal for Brazil in a friendly in London against Sweden in March 2008.

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Alexandre Pato has fallen down the Brazil pecking order

But injuries and a slump in form saw him return to Brazil before the age of 25. Even then, at Paulista outfit Corinthians and under the guidance of coach Tite, it was thought he could get his career back on track in time for the World Cup.

His first goal in over a year for the Selecao against Australia last September wasn't enough to convince Scolari of his credentials for the World Cup however. He is currently on loan at Sao Paulo after failing to impress at their archrivals.

Leandro Damiao, meanwhile, was hand picked by Brazil idol Ronaldo Fenomeno as the next in line to spearhead the country's attack, as reported by Extra (link in Portuguese). He was linked with several European clubs whilst at Internacional, most insistently Tottenham Hotspur, in the light of some excellent form on the domestic and international stage.

Much like Pato, Damiao looked destined for the top echelons of Brazilian football, and not only on Ronaldo's say so. He was the country's first-choice forward at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, netting six goals in as many games as the Selecao reached the final.

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Leandro Damiao was booed by his own fans against Sport Recife.

Again, like Pato, injuries have cost the 24-year-old dear. Where once a move to Europe seemed to be on the cards, he transferred during the offseason to Santos, where he has failed to endear himself to the club's faithful.

Yet to open his account in this season's Campeonato Brasileiro, he found himself the target of the supporters' anger as Santos drew 1-1 with Sport Recife in the first round. Coach Oswaldo de Oliveira was forced to defend the club's expensive new acquisition, as reported by Estadao (link in Portuguese).

Damiao and Pato's international futures look to be on the back burner for the time being, certainly if Fred and Jo continue to perform. They must first rediscover their attacking instincts at club level before harbouring ambition of pulling on the yellow shirt again.

Lucas' period of transition to European football is well and truly over, but by no means is he destined to head back to the comforts of his homeland any time soon. However, stiff competition in his favoured area has left him in the same boat as those floating perilously close to the “washed up” shore.

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