The must buys in football management games, or real life (if you have the cash).
This year’s list features several exciting prospects and many of them new names. Pedro drops out since he’s turned 22 and a few of last year’s top ten have moved to Europe (the criteria for getting on the list is that they play their club football in Brazil and are under 21 years of age), but they have been replaced on the list by some more than capable up-and-coming stars.
Brazilfooty doens’t like to blow its own trumpet (except when it gets things right)! Some of last year’s top youngsters have been a big success: Gabigol scored loads of goals for Santos and Flamengo, Emerson signed for Barcelona, while Rodrygo and Lucas Paqueta have moved to Real Madrid and AC Milan respectively. Pedro would have made his Seleção debut and probably gone to Real Madrid had a serious knee injury not scuppered his progress. Admittedly, a few haven’t lived up to expectations: Andrey (Vasco), Liziero (São Paulo) and Leo Santos (Corinthians) among them. Without further ado, here is this year’s list:
10 Reinier, Flamengo, attacking midfield, 17 years
His club Flamengo has apparently reached an agreement to sell the player to Everton for €40 million when he turns 18 in January. It remains to be seen whether that move goes ahead: it is a lot of money for a player with only a handful of first team appearances, and if he really is that good, wouldn’t the likes of Real Madrid be putting in a bid? It remains to be seen.
Where he ends up and how much he is worth is an interesting topic of conversation, but the reason he is on this list is that he is one of Brazil’s brightest talents. But talent alone is not enough to warrant a higher ranking, for now. He has only recently started being involved with Flamengo’s first team and has played just a handful of games. The first impressions are good though: he is an elegant player with a very good touch and there are similarities between him and Lucas Paqueta, in stature and style of play.
The next: Lucas Paqueta (if it goes to plan).
9 Lincoln, Flamengo, striker, 18 years
Flamengo’s young striker Lincoln was in 6th position on this list last year, but he hasn’t quite pushed on as much as hoped. He made his league debut for Flamengo, aged 16, two seasons ago, but has failed to nail down his place in Flamengo’s starting line-up since then. He has featured in eight out of Flamengo’s 15 league games this year, but most of those were as a substitute and he has only scored one goal. Before this season he had played 12 league matches, with no goals to his name. Hardly prolific and the club has spent big players like Bruno Henrique, Vitinho and Gabigol, suggesting that they do not see Lincoln as a starting player anytime soon. He is still very young and there is plenty of time for him to develop. Not the biggest player, but he is strong, quick, and has plundered lots of goals at youth level for both Flamengo and Brazil.
The next: Romario (if it goes to plan).
8 Talles, Vasco, Striker, 17 years
Aged just 17 Vasco’s young centre forward Talles is the youngest player on this list. Needless to say, there are many aspects of his game that can, and will, improve, in time. But for someone so young, he has acquitted himself really well in the games that he has played for Vasco so far. The club were in a relegation battle when Vanderlei Luxemburgo took over a few months ago, but now, with Talles in the team, they have gained points and climbed places. He hasn’t scored yet in the seven league matches he has played, but the club’s form has improved with him in the team. He has also left a good impression off the pitch and he speaks well when interviewed. Maturity, temperament and talent, by the looks of things. He is a big lad – perhaps not the quickest – but he has a good touch, good brain and appears to have all of the characteristics needed to develop into a top-quality target man.
The next: Jo (not the Man City Jo, the Corinthians title-winning Jo – if it goes to plan).
7 Pedrinho, Corinthians, Wing, 21 years
Despite having many games under his belt for one of Brazil’s biggest clubs, Pedrinho missed out on last year’s list. The reason: for all of his talent and ability, he rarely deliverd on the big occasion. Corinthians coach Fabio Carille demands a lot from his wide players, both in hard work, and end product. Corinthians is a big club, with a huge support, and playing for them puts players under massive scrutiny – not everyone can hack it. Pedrinho seemed to struggle with the scrutiny, and the demands of Carille, given that the team doesn’t play the most attacking football.
But scroll forward one year and he has a new lease of life; this year, he has become one of Corinthians’ most potent attacking outlets. As well as keeping the coach happy with his work rate, he is adding end product to his game: four goals in nine league starts this year, compared with one goal in 27 league starts last year, proves that point. In terms of playing style he is explosive, powerful and has a strong left foot.
The next: Gareth Bale (if it goes to plan).
6 Matheus Henrique, Grêmio, midfield, 21 years
There are a lot of similarities between Matheus Henrique and Arthur: they play in the same position, they have similar height and frames, they are composed in possession, have excellent control and passing ability, and while they are not the best tacklers, they reading play and positioning themselves well. Oh, and they both started their careers at Grêmio and have broke into the first team at around the same age. It would be a stretch to suggest that Matheus Henrique is going to sign for Barcelona or go for a big fee like Arthur, but the career of Matheus Henrique (also sometimes called Matheusinho, or little Matheus) is certainly progressing in the right direction. He has started 7 league matches this year; it would have been more if the coach hadn’t rested him for key cup matches. Central to Grêmio’s midfield now.
The next: Arthur (if it goes to plan).
5 Bruno Guimarães, Athletico Paranaense, midfield, 21 years
Athletico Paranaense have been something of a revelation over the last year: they won the 2018 Copa Sudamericana and impressed many people by beating Boca Juniors 3-0 in the group phases of the Copa Libertadores this year (they unluckily drew Boca in the round of 16 and were beaten). Bruno Guimarães has been a big part of that success, he played well in those matches and he is their driving force from their midfield. Some pundits describe him as a defensive midfielder, but for me he is a box to box player: strong, good tackler, good engine, great passing and now that he has become one of Athletico’s main men he is adding goals and assists to his game.
The next: Frank Lampard (if it goes to plan).
4 Thuler, Flamengo, Centre Back, 20 years
Thuler has been starting a lot of matches for Flamengo, partly due to the injury to Rodrigo Caio, but the sale of Leo Duarte to AC Milan was a sign that the club has faith in Thuler. He has come through their ranks and was in the top 10 last year. He is continuing to improve and is a strong, solid defender. Producing the goods for Flamengo’s first team at such a young age, with all of the pressure that comes with it, is not to be underestimated.
The next: Nicolas Otamendi (if it goes to plan)
3 João Pedro, Fluminense, Striker, 17 years
This kid has been picked up by Watford and, work permit permitting, he will move to the Premier League club when he turns 18. He has made quite an impact so far for someone so young. With Pedro’s injury and a couple of other player sales, João Pedro has had chances in the first team this year and he hasn’t disappointed. Has scored three league goals in seven starts, but has also scored a few in cup competitions for Fluminense this year – not bad going for someone who is playing in a struggling team. He’s tall, quick, skilful and confident. Watford seem to have quite a player on their hands and credit to their scouting department for finding the player and securing the deal – they did it before he had played a first team game for his club.
The next: A mixture of Troy Deeney and Ronaldo (if it goes to plan)
2 Jean Pyerre, Grêmio, midfield, 21 years
The selection of Jean Pyerre as number two will raise a few eyebrows. After all, he wasn’t even picked in a recent Brazil u20 squad (despite being 21 as far as I know he was eligible). But Grêmio fans, and in particular his coach will tell you just how highly they rate him. One reason that perhaps he has gone under the radar a little is that he doesn’t fit the stereotype for a creative attacking midfielder or a defensive midfielder. Box to box? Perhaps, in time. For now, he normally gets employed in a more advanced role by Renato Gaúcho, in part because Matheus Henrique is playing in that deeper role. Jean Pyerre has got a little bit of everything – he’s skilful, can shoot (he’s scored two in eight league starts this year), cross, he takes free kicks and he’s got the size to mix it in the middle of the park; he could go on to be a very good player. Renato Gaúcho thinks it’s only a matter of time before he gets a call-up to the Seleção – not clear whether he was referring to the u20s or the full national team. I wouldn’t rule out either.
The next: Paul Pogba (if it goes to plan)
1 Antony, São Paulo, wing, 19 years
Top of the list is São Paulo’s exciting attacking right winger Antony. I noticed this kid first in the final of the Copa São Paulo (Brazil’s premier youth competition), which São Paulo went on to win. It was his good left foot that helped create one of São Paulo’s goals in that match. After winning that competition he was soon called up to São Paulo’s first team and he hasn’t looked back – he is now one of the first names on the team sheet.
His form for the first team has tailed off a little as the season has gone on, but his initial performances for the team showed just how good he is. He’s got the close control of a futsal player and he’s got the skill, pace and acceleration to get away from his marker. There is some work for him to do; in particular, he needs to transform his ability and general good play into end product. He should be getting more assists and he only has one goal to his name in ten league games. Nevertheless, the fact that he has come so far, so fast, shows what a prospect he is.
The next: Ronaldinho (if it goes to plan)
Other honourable mentions go to goal poacher Alerrandro (of Atletico Mineiro), who can consider himself unlucky to miss out on the top 10. Bahia’s attacking midfielder Ramires, who has just turned 19, is another top prospect and São Paulo have several youngsters in their first team squad who are all deserving of honourable mentions: Toró, Luan and Igor Gomes. Vasco’s 20 year old midfielder Marrony has played a lot of games and is worthy of a mention. Nonato, at Internacional, and Marcos Paulo, at Fluminense, are good young players too.
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