Kaka, Robinho and the Top 25 Brazilians in European Football
Brazil has historically been a factory for producing some of the best football players on the planet.
Because Europe is home to many of the best leagues and teams in the world, it's no wonder that most of the premier talent in Brazil comes to Europe. The owners of the teams have pocketbooks that they are eager to open in order to attract the best players Brazil can offer.
Let's look at the top 25 Brazilians currently playing in Europe.
Oliveira Anderson: Manchester United
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Although Anderson has yet to live up to the hype at Old Trafford; he is still only 22 years old and there is plenty of hope that he will live up to the expectations in the next few years.
Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes aren't getting any younger, hopefully Anderson will be an answer to fill the midfield void that will exist in the near future at Manchester.
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Adriano is in his first season with Barcelona after spending the last few seasons at Sevilla. He hasn't been able to crack the starting XI with Barcelona, but then again, few players actually could.
Despite spending most of the season on the bench, he is still a premier defender and only 26 years old. The future is still bright and hopefully he will find more playing time in the future with the Catalans.
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The jury is still out on Sandro. But that is somewhat of a given considering he is only 21 years old.
Sandro came over to Tottenham last season and has seen little playing time throughout most of the season. However, he did start against AC Milan in the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 the other week.
He also received the starting nod last week in Tottenham's game against the Wolves. He doesn't appear to be a guaranteed fixture in the lineup yet, but he at least seems to be gaining the confidence of Harry Redknapp.
Alex Rodrigo Dias Da Costa ("Alex"): Chelsea
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Alex hasn't exactly had the ideal stint with Chelsea. He backed up Ricardo Carvalho for the first couple of years with the club. Carvalho made the move to Real Madrid this last offseason, yet Alex has been sidelined for much of the season with a thigh injury.
Despite the injury, the expectations are high for Alex as he is a premier defender and player. Chelsea has a slew of solid defenders and it remains unclear if Alex will get the starting nod when he returns.
Chelsea would have quite the dominating defense if Alex played alongside David Luiz, Ashley Cole and John Terry. Any team would struggle to score and Chelsea could renew their title hopes.
Rafael Pereira Da Silva ("Rafael"): Manchester United
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The future is bright at United with Rafael. At only 20 years old, Rafael could be a long term fixture at Old Trafford. United fans will be fortunate if this is the case as the youngster has showed incredible promise this season.
Rafael has earned a starting nod in 14 of United's 29 Premier League games this season and clearly gained the confidence of Sir Alex Ferguson.
If Rafael continues to progress and develop with United, don't be surprised to see him at the top of this list in two to three years and the fixture for Brazil's defense in future World Cups.
Gilberto Silva: Panathinaikos
A few years ago Silva would have probably been towards the top of this list. Some may argue he should still be near the top. Regardless of his position on this list, even at 34, he is still one of the best Brazilian players on the planet.
He was the foundation for Arsenal's defense during some of their glory years earlier this decade. He has also been a fixture for years with the Brazilian National team. Those days are likely over as he may not be able to retain a spot on the team.
Michel Bastos: Lyon
Easily one of the more entertaining Brazilian players. His flashes of brilliance are almost unparalleled. As a left back from Brazil with a dominating shot, he reminds many of the great Roberto Carlos.
Bastos was a part of Brazil's 2010 World Cup team. While he has had many incredible moments as a player, he hasn't become the fixture for the World Cup team. With so many other quality defenders, it is unclear how long Bastos will be on the team or how much he will play.
Regardless of how much he plays with the national team, at least he will be on the field with Lyon and likely will produce many more incredible goals.
Ramires Santos Do Nascimento ("Ramires"): Chelsea
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At 23, Ramires is establishing himself as a premier midfielder. Ramires made his move from Benefica to Chelsea this past offseason and has already proven himself to be a solid addition to the club.
In his first season at Chelsea he has already started 18 games. With aging midfielders at Chelsea (Lampard, Essien), Chelsea fans shouldn't be too worried about the future with the promising play from Ramires.
Heurelho Gomes: Tottenham
Gomes had a rough start in the Premier League, but he has been resilient and proven himself to be one of the best Brazilian goalkeepers. Although he didn't see much action during the World Cup, he did have the honor of actually traveling with the squad to South Africa.
With Tottenham, Gomes is establishing himself as one of the best keepers in the Premier League.
Juan Silveira Dos Santos ("Juan"): Roma
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At 32, Juan is still a top flight defender. He has spent the last three years in Serie A at Roma. He is crucial to Roma's defense and shows no signs of decline.
Juan has been a fixture with the national team as well with 79 caps to his name.
While known for their scoring, Brazil is also a factory for producing solid defenders, and Luisao is no exception.
Luisao has been with Benfica since 2003 and is crucial to their defense.
Nilmar Honorato Da Silva ("Nilmar"): Villareal
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Nilmar is proving his worth at Villareal and proving that he is one of Brazil's best strikers. With 11 goals on the season, he is a main reason why Villareal is once again poised to qualify for the Champions League. With such great production and contribution, it wouldn't be surprising if another club made a move for him this summer.
At 26-years old, Nilmar has made numerous appearances for the national team and has nine goals. He will likely have many more appearances over the next couple of years.
Felipe Melo: Juventus
Melo bounced around with various European clubs before arriving at Juventus in 2009.
Melo has had a small stint with the national team. At 30 and with so many defenders for Brazil, you never know how long a player will last with the national team. Even if he does have more caps, he will likely always be remembered for his red card against the Netherlands in the 2010 World Cup.
Lucas Leiva: Liverpool
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Lucas transferred to Liverpool in 2003. He hasn't been a disappointment by any means, but probably hasn't quite met the expectations either. He did have the difficult job of replacing Xabi Alonso for Liverpool, which is no easy task.
The promising side is that Lucas is only 23. He is still young and has already played in over 100 games for Liverpool. At such a young age, he can already be considered a veteran for the team. If he can continue to progress, his experience and ability could help propel Liverpool back into the top four in future years.
David Luiz: Chelsea
The future is bright for both Chelsea and the Brazilian National Team with David Luiz. He just completed his highly publicized transfer from Benefica to the Stamford Bridge.
And though he is only two games into his tenure with Chelsea, it already appears that Chelsea's investment will pay off. He scored a crucial goal against league leaders Manchester United last week. He has one more goal with Chelsea than Fernando Torres at this point.
Hopefully for Chelsea fans, that changes in the near future. Regardless, Chelsea can look forward to many great years with Luiz as a focal point of their defense.
Marcelo Vieira Da Silva Júnior ("Marcelo"): Real Madrid
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In three years Marcelo has been able to do something that players like Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and Guti could never do—crack the starting XI at Real Madrid and maintain a spot on the starting XI.
Granted, the fact that the aforementioned players couldn't maintain a spot in the starting XI has more to do with Real's management constantly seeking new players and transfers and nothing to do with a lack of ability by the above players.
Nevertheless, it is difficult to keep your position at Real Madrid and at 22 years old, Marcelo has been able to impress three different coaches in Madrid and earn his starting spot under all three.
Marcelo, like Roberto Carlos, enjoys making the runs of the sideline and contributing to the attack. He likely won't ever be as great of a player as Carlos, but at only 22, anything is possible.
Luís Fabiano: Sevilla
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At 30 years old, Fabiano is still one of Brazil's best strikers.
He has been with Sevilla since 2006. The 2006/07 was his dominant season in which he scored 31 goals in all competitions. His production has dipped somewhat over the past couple of years, but he still has 10 goals this season despite struggling with injury.
He may not be this high on this list in a few years, but as of right now, he is still one of Brazil's best exports to Europe.
Thiago Silva: AC Milan
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Silva is well regarded as one of the best central defenders in the world. He has size and skill and is a dominant presence for AC Milan's defense. It's no wonder that many clubs have expressed an interest in Silva.
Despite the interest, it appears that for the time being Silva will be staying in Milan. That should make Milan fans happy because Silva is only 26 and will likely provide many more years of quality play at central defense.
Daniel Alves Da Silva ("Dani Alves"): Barcelona
Alves made the move from Sevilla to Barcelona in 2008 and has earned himself a secured spot in the starting XI at the Camp Nou.
Many people, and not just Barcelona fans, regard Alves as one of the best defenders in the world and the best right-back in the world. Whether or not you agree with that statement, you cannot have an honest discussion about the premier defenders and not include Alves.
Robinho: AC Milan
It seems like it was just yesterday that Robinho was being heralded as the next Pele or Ronaldo. A few years and some failed stints with Real Madrid and Manchester City later, it appears that the window for Robinho is closing.
Granted, that doesn't mean that Robinho isn't a great player. He is still a quality striker with great speed an amazing skill. He likely won't be remembered amongst the legendary Brazilian strikers though.
Even though his career has been somewhat of a disappointment in that he hasn't lived up to the enormously high expectations, he still is a formidable striker and one of the best Brazilian players in Europe.
Robinho is also only 27 which means he likely has at least four more quality years left before he begins to slow down. So the book isn't closed by any means yet.
Alexandre Pato ("Pato"): AC Milan
Some might argue with the positioning of Pato ahead of Robinho on this list. However, Pato has scored more goals this season than Robinho despite having played in eight fewer games. Additionally, Pato is only 21 years old.
At the moment, Robinho may still be considered the principal striker for AC Milan and the Brazilian National Team, but it's only a matter of time until those reins are transferred to Pato.
So even if you would argue that Robinho is a better striker than Pato, you would have to at least concede that it doesn't appear that it will stay that way for very long.
Lúcio: Inter Milan
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Lucio has bounced around Europe playing for Bayern Leverkusen, Bayern Munich and presently with Inter Milan. At 32 years old he is well regarded as one of the best defenders in the world. He was the foundation for Inter's defense last year when they dominated Europe and won the treble.
He has also been a staple with the Brazilian National Team with 96 caps for Brazil. With so many young, quality players knocking on the door and hoping for a shot to represent Brazil one might think that Lucio's days are numbered.
Yet his continued high quality of play lead many to believe that he will still be around for awhile.
Kaká: Real Madrid
Had this list been made two years ago Kaka would have unquestionably been at the top of this list. Yet ever since his move from Milan to Madrid, Kaka has seemed like a shell of the player once regarded as the best in the world.
Some may argue that Madrid is a poor fit for him and that if he were elsewhere he would return to his dominant form. Yet this past summer in the World Cup he was only mediocre and still not quite the player he once was in Milan.
Despite his recent struggles, Kaka is still deserving to be high on this list based upon his amazing ability that he has displayed in the past. The question just remains as to whether the amazing ability is merely a thing of the past or if it will return on a more consistent basis in the future.
Maicon Douglas Sisenando ("Maicon"): Inter Milan
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If one does not believe that Dani Alves is the best right-back in the world, it is likely because they would argue that Maicon is the best-right back and perhaps the best defender in the world.
At 29 years old, Maicon is one of best attacking defenders in the world. He greatly contributed to Inter's success last year and has proven to be one of best defenders and Brazilian players in Europe.
Júlio César: Inter Milan
Cesar has been a dominant goalkeeper and often viewed as one of the best in the world. He led Inter Milan as they won the treble last season.
At 31, Cesar has showed no indication that he will be slowing any time soon. He is the current starting keeper for the Brazilian National Team.
If he continues to play at such a high level, Brazil and Inter fans will likely enjoy his services for another four to five years. I'm sure many other teams and countries only wish they could be so lucky.