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Copa America 2011: Is Alex De Souza the Player That Brazil Is Missing?

Blake ThomasCorrespondent IJuly 13, 2011

TRABZON, TURKEY - AUGUST 23:  Alex de Souza of Fenerbahce SK during the Spor Toto Super League match between Trabzonspor A.S. and Fenerbahce SK held at the Avni Aker Stadium on August 23, 2010 in Trabzon, Turkey. Trabzonspor A.S. won the match 3-2. (Photo by Bulent Kilic/EuroFootball/Getty Images)
EuroFootball/Getty Images

After a dismal start to this year's CopaAmerica, Brazil's critics and supporters alike have began to question the team's credentials to actually defend their title.

The Samba Boys have taken just a point from each of their fixtures, one a scoreless draw against Venezuela and the other a somewhat fortunate 2-2 tie against Paraguay, in which they salvaged a point thanks to a last minute strike from substitute Fred.

They're known as notoriously slow starters, but this year it's different. Coach Mano Menezes has been criticized for his squad selection, as he left out a number of the best Brazilian players from Europe this season.

Some of the prime examples are players like Porto's Hulk and Marcelo of Real Madrid, but one of the less widely regarded exclusions is Alex de Souza of Turkish champions Fenerbahce.

He is already 33 years of age, but the one-time Brazilian captain enjoyed a spectacular season, scoring 28 goals and setting up 13 in just 37 matches.

While his age is a major deterring factor, he would provide some much needed experience as well as the creative spark Brazil are missing in attack. Many have claimed that the presence of veterans like Alex are unneeded,  and that this competition is simply a stepping stone for the 2014 World Cup. However, the exclusion of promising players like Douglas Costa, Willian, Marcelo, and Hulk, as well as the presence of other players like Fred, Elano, and even Jadson show that the coach has attempted to inject a little bit of experience into the side.

However, he has definitely gone the wrong way, failing to include any truly seasoned veteran of an attacker in the squad, save Robinho, who has failed to shine as of yet.

At that, a seasoned veteran is exactly what Alex would be for the Brazilian squad! He debuted with the Seleção in 1998, and played in the 1999 Confederations Cup, 1999 Copa America, 2000 Summer Olympics, 2001 Copa America, 2003 Confederations Cup, and even captained Brazil to glory in the 2004 Copa America. Along the way he picked up a total of 49 caps, scoring and assisting 12 and 11 goals respectively.

Indeed, Alex de Souza himself voiced some discontent, stating, “I for one wholeheartedly think that I deserve a spot on the national team. Now I should be playing for Brazil in the Copa America championship.”

With the exclusion of players like Kaka and Ronaldinho, you can obviously draw the conclusion that poor form or failure to truly impress over the course of the last season were factors. However, with Alex's name not being on the squad list, you can only assume it is the fact that he is 33.

However the numbers speak for themselves, and Alex was among the most effective attackers in Europe this season. In fact, he has been for quite some time now! Since transferring to Turkey in 2004, he's racked up a mouthwatering total of 152 goals and 126 assists in 296 appearances. Consider those kind of numbers, then consider that his last international call-up came in 2005. While you're at it, keep in mind that Alex de Souza has done all this is an attacking midfielder, almost second striker role, perhaps described best as "in the hole".

Indeed it is that "in the hole" role that Brazil have failed to fill, and a playmaker like Alex, picking the right passes, distributing play well, and more than able to have a go himself, should be a welcome addition in the squad.

While it's questionable if Alex de Souza would make the starting eleven, or if he should, considering Brazil are very eager to give their young stars a chance, he is more than capable of displacing a couple of players in Brazil's 23-man squad.

Perhaps, though, I'm just a little flustered that a player as spectacular and talented as Alex never really got the opportunity to shine for the national squad. Maybe if he had gone to one of Europe's top clubs, he would have been a much bigger footballing name. Rather than playing in the subpar Turkish league, he could have easily graced the fields of La Liga or the Premier League with success. This could have opened up opportunities for him to play with his national team, maybe even in the World Cup, the biggest stage of football, one Alex would have thrived on.

However, it's far too late for all that, and Alex de Souza, a player who could have accomplished so much more in an already illustrious career, put it best saying, “Brazil coach Mano Menezes forms his team. Maybe he is thinking about the upcoming World Cup in 2014, but I will be 36. To be frank and candid, playing for Brazil at 36 looks like mission impossible."

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