10 Young Brazil Players Poised to Break out in 2014/15
Brazilian players are once more set to play a key role in the season ahead and, as ever, there will be new breakthrough stars among those who come to the fore.
While it is fair to say that, in the last couple of years, players have remained in Brazil longer when compared to the preceding decade, there are still huge numbers who venture to Europe before fully establishing themselves at the top of the game.
Of those who will take part in the 2014-15 European season, Bleacher Report offers 10 players who could be set to burst into wider public consciousness.
21-year-old former Cruzeiro striker Vinicius Araujo joined Valencia in January after rising rapidly through the ranks in his homeland to be regarded as one of Brazil's best striking prospects.
He first rose to prominence as top-scorer in the Brasileirao Under-20 and Copa do Brasil of the same age level, before scoring seven league goals as a rotation option in his first season as a senior player last campaign.
Thus far, opportunities have been rare at the Mestalla, but with a full pre-season under his belt he should be well equipped to apply pressure to Rodrigo, Jonas and Paco Alcacer for a starting berth.
Former Sao Paulo midfielder Casemiro has never lacked for talent, as his rapid rise in 18 months at Real Madrid would suggest. His attitude, though, has not always been quite as hoped.
However, since arriving in Europe, the 22-year-old has worked hard on getting into better shape and begun to forge a strong reputation for himself once more. Now on loan at Porto, he must prove he is ready for the next step.
The sky is the limit for Casemiro given his blend of physicality and wondrous technical ability. If he can learn to make the right decisions on and off the pitch, he will be a major player for Brazil in the years ahead.
A centre-back with Brazil's victorious Under-20 side at the Toulon tournament earlier this summer, Wallace has since made the switch to European football after signing a five-year deal with Braga.
However, as reported by Record (h/t John Sinnott), he is already on his way to France with AS Monaco in a similar move that already saw countryman Fabinho join the principality side last year.
Brazilian Wallace on his way to Monaco from Braga having not played a game for club - with help of agent Jorge Mendes http://t.co/4AYjiHLCJa— John Sinnott (@JohnSinnott) August 22, 2014
First-team opportunities could initially be hard to come by, yet Monaco have given chances to kids despite their lavish spending over recent years. Given his potential, it would be no surprise to see him take his chance when it arrives.
Just one of a fine generation of promising full-backs emerging in Brazil, Wendell did enough during a season on loan with Gremio to earn himself a big money move to Europe with Bayer Leverkusen.
It is a move that will require him to hit the ground running, with Leverkusen once more in the UEFA Champions League and doubtless hoping to retain that status over the season ahead.
An Under-20 international, he is already on the senior side's radar and, given manager Dunga's reluctance to use Marcelo in the left-back berth, there could be senior opportunities to come his way if he can impress.
Chelsea-owned forward Lucas Piazon is set for a third loan spell away from Stamford Bridge this season and, following on from his success with Vitesse last year, has a shot at making an impact in one of Europe's top leagues with Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt.
It has been established that he can be a threat at senior level, with his haul of 11 goals and 8 assists last season, impressive in any European league per WhoScored.com statistics.
This season his challenge is to prove he can repeat such form in a better league with a side unlikely to trouble those at the very top of the table. It's a significant task, but one which both Chelsea and the Brazil national team will sit up and take note of should he succeed.
Another on the books at Chelsea, right-back Wallace will spend the season in the Eredivisie with Vitesse, where he would have spent last season had poor advice not seen him opt for a year on the bench with Internazionale instead.
The former Fluminense youngster, who was a first-team regular at 17, must now make up for lost time and has started both of his side's league games thus far this campaign. If he can emulate international colleague Lucas Piazon at the club, he will have gone a long way to doing so.
Wallace is undeniably talented and does not lack for speed and power, but he must go through the adaptation phase that most Brazilian full-backs encounter in Europe. In the Netherlands, he has a good environment to do so under the watchful eye of coaches trusted by his Chelsea employers.
One of the latest batch of Brazilians caught up in Udinese's extensive recruitment strategy is Guilherme, a 23-year-old midfielder who joined from Corinthians earlier this summer.
Originally recruited by the Sao Paulo side with the idea of being Paulinho's potential long-term replacement, he had excelled in the second tier with Portuguesa and brought that strong form to the Paulista giants.
With Udinese seeking to refresh their midfield, he looks set to play an important role alongside countryman Allan this campaign and will hope that he can do enough to ensure he is the latest in a long line of success stories at the club.
Rafael Alcantara's big breakthrough at senior level actually came last season with a terrific loan spell at Celta Vigo. However, the challenge of breaking into Barcelona's first-team is set to be even more formidable.
In his favour, at least, is the presence of manager Luis Enrique who oversaw his season in Galicia. The 21-year-old will be trusted, but will still need to displace one of several senior stars if he is to earn a starting berth.
It could be a make or break season for Rafinha at the Camp Nou, with the Spanish side making preparations for an upcoming transfer ban. He will have opportunities, but must seize them before similar chances are handed to those emerging below him from the youth team setup.
Earlier this summer, Coritiba's 18-year-old left-back Abner completed an under-the-radar switch to Real Madrid, where he will link up with the club's Castilla side in the Segunda Division.
There is much fuss surrounding Abner, though, who is perhaps the best of all Brazil's young full-back talents. Sadly, the injury that disrupted his Under-17 World Cup campaign last summer has limited his first-team exposure, but he has shone at youth level.
An Under-20 international while still 16, he has incredible power and stamina on the flank, which has helped him excel at both ends of the pitch. Real may have picked up a future star.
Benfica lost some important players this summer in the shape of Rodrigo, Ezequiel Garay and Lazar Markovic, but have been predictably swift in responding to the departures.
Among those through the door is versatile 20-year-old attacking midfielder Talisca, formerly of Bahia and another who featured for his country's Under-20 side at the 2013 Toulon tournament.
Talisca is clever on the ball and has a keen eye for a pass, but he balances such technical attributes with strength and speed. His potential is huge and, having made a fast start to life in Portugal, hopes are high for the season ahead.
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