Updated: Jun 26, 2020
Brazil has never truly had a bad team. They've suffered a few humiliations in their dramatic history, but on the whole they've embarrassed opponents far more than themselves. The last decade has proven somewhat disappointing in comparison to their domination throughout the late 90s and 00s. After winning the World Cup back in 2002, Brazil have since finished 4th place or worse in every tournament. Their talents have seemingly been present, but as a team they've struggled to capture momentum, even when the World Cup was hosted on their home turf back in 2016.
In 2018, Brazil were knocked out of the World Cup in Russia by Belgium. However, team selection looked somewhat weathered. Brazil selected 9 players aged 30 or over for that tournament, favouring experienced veterans over enigmatic youth. The only two outfield players aged 25 or younger were Gabriel Jesus and Marquinhos. When you compare this to the reigning champions, France, the difference is stark; 5 players over 30 were selected, whilst 14 of their outfielders were 25 or under. France took a chance on their young stars providing pace and flair to lead them to victory. Sure enough, it did.
Brazil have since been toying with their squad. Old names are starting to drop down the pecking order - particularly in creative positions. Hulk, Taison, Augusto, Willian and co are all starting to take a back seat.
New, younger talents are starting to emerge as prospective stars that will reignite the fire that Brazilian football once looked like.
Highly skilful, creative, fun. "It's like watching Brazil."
Across both South America and Europe, Brazilian footballers are once again emerging as highly regarded creators. Aside from the Neymars', Coutinho's and Firminos', there are some younger lesser-known players that are catching the eye.
Let's take a look at some of their recent call-ups and see how they look on the Index:
Lucas Paqueta | Milan (vs South Korea - 11.11.19)
Lucas Paqueta was somewhat of a hype player this time last year. The young CAM joined Milan from Flamenco at the start of 2019, but has failed to make a huge impression at club level. He's still young, and adapting to European football though. When you look at why Milan were drawn to the youngster, it's very easy to see his raw ability. His balletic footwork and composure on the ball defines the Brazil of old. Despite his shaky start in his first full season in Serie A, the youngster has still been called upon to represent Brazil's national team... and worn No.10. A big statement. He sits at just £1.03 on the index. If he can find his feet at Milan, the 22 year old almost certainly worth twice the price.
Rodrygo | Real Madrid (vs South Korea - 11.11.19)
Rodrygo is already hugely popular on Football Index, currently holding a value of £3.45 per share. His breakout season at Real Madrid has left plenty of fans eager to see more of the Brazilian Forward. In 4 champions league games, he tallied 4 goals and 2 assists. Although his La Liga form is not so hot, the 19 year old looks a saving grace for Los Blancos' ageing wings who are long past the Ronaldo-Bale era. Hazard hasn't filled the boots quite as expected, whilst Bale has remained outcast. The young Rodrygo will surely be part of Madrid and the Brazil squad going forward if he continues his development as expected. Big things to come from the winger.
Vinicius Junior | Real Madrid (vs Peru - 10.09.19)
Back in 2018, Vinicius Junior left Flamenco for Real Madrid at a cost of €40m. At the time, he was just 17 years old. He's since had to bide his time to get into the Real Madrid squad. He has managed to feature in 19 league games this season, though he's only started a fraction of those. Nonetheless, he's still just 19 years old and has years of development left. Real Madrid is not a bad place to learn the trade, whilst young teammates such as Rodrygo offer great competition. With just 1 cap under his belt, Vinicius Jr will be looking to push on to become a regular for both club and country. He's valued at £3.07 right now, and hasn't had all that much movement over the last year as a result of his irregular features. As Madrid strengthen, Vinicius could well be a star in European football should he continue developing - far exceeding the current share value he's at.
David Neres | Ajax (vs Argentina - 15.11.19)
The 23 year old winger has featured in, and dominated, Eredivisie football all season. Having been part of the Sao Paulo setup until 2017, Neres made the move to Ajax to further his career prospects. Last season he tallied 8 goals and 11 assists in a phenomenal season for Ajax. This season his numbers were on track for another solid effort before injury struck a few days before he was due to play for Brazil. He has already earned 7 caps, and looks to be a firm option for Brazil going forward. At club level, he has options ahead. Ajax's star-studded squad is depleting, though Neres still remains a core member of the club. He no doubt has scouts keeping tabs on him, so opportunities will present themselves should he wish to pursue the next step. For now, he needs to recover and get back to putting up good numbers. On the index, he's stagnated at £1.81. Given Eredivisie is a non-PB league, Neres looks highly expensive. But - when a transfer emerges, he'll surely be on the up. There's a very tall ceiling in this investment should he move away from Ajax in the next season or two.
There are a host of other Brazilian talents lurking in the shadows of European football, on the brink of breaking out.
Matheus Cunha looks to have found incredible form since moving to Hertha Berlin from RB Leipzig. If he continues developing under Labbadia at the rate at which he's showing, it's only a matter of time until the 22 year old earns a senior cap.
Gabriel Martinelli has broken through to Arsenal's first team, stunning both English fans and Europa League defences at the tender age of 18.
Antony is set to join Ajax this summer from Sao Paulo. The 20 year old has been brought in for €15m as cover for Neres - his hype is almost bursting at the seams that he may outgrow Ajax fairly swiftly.
Emerson is a promising fullback at Betis on loan from Barca. He's already earned his first cap, and the fullback has provided 5 assists and 3 goals for Betis this term. It's almost inevitable that he'll be a part of Brazil's future too.
Reinier is on track to join Real Madrid this summer. The hyped 18 year old has potential to follow in the footsteps of fellow Brazilians in becoming a world-class talent for Los Blancos in years to come.
The young Brazilian stars transitioning from South America to Europe look hugely promising. Some have travelled with the extra baggage of wonderkid hype, whilst others have emerged as the talents they rightfully are. The one certain takeaway from this article is that Brazil are not short of attacking options in years to come. The squad depth is vast, whilst the wonderkids are starting to prove themselves very early in their careers.
It'll be fascinating to see who features in the next World Cup for Brazil.