The Confederations Cup isn’t the most glamorous of international tournaments by any stretch of imagination, for it often offers uneven contests between an ‘interesting’ mix of participating teams…Tahiti win this years ‘interesting’ team award and will no doubt be the whipping boys of Group B.
Don’t let that put you off – the rest of the line up is pretty good with Italy, Spain, Uruguay, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria and Brazil the other teams in the mix – and lets face it, there isn’t much other football about to raise the excitement levels (thanks England under-21).
The tournament, which begins in Brazil this weekend, is a useful opportunity for some players to secure a place in their national side ahead of next year’s World Cup…but forget that, it is the perfect opportunity to crank up this summers transfer rumours to another level and throw in to the mix some players that we have never heard of before!
Forget all the speculation and media frenzy surrounding Neymar – that’s done and dusted now – the Brazilian team have plenty of other fresh meat for the transfer rumour grinder. Just so you didn’t feel not in-the-know and couldn’t tell everyone on Twitter you were an ‘ITK’ w****r, we decided to help you out. Here is the best of Brazil that you will read about over the next two weeks:
Chelsea fans will be familiar with the 24-year-old who featured for Corinthians in the FIFA Club World Cup final in December last year, as the Brazilians defeated the Blues 1-0 in the final, while Paulinho’s performances caught the eye of many.
A defensive midfielder by trade, Paulinho is often deployed further up the pitch for both club and country, much like fellow Brazilian Ramires with whom he shares a seemingly perpetual movement throughout the 90 minutes. With Paulinho’s box-to-box running, combined with his timing arriving late in to the box, it is Ramires’ Chelsea colleague Frank Lampard that Paulinho has drawn comparison too.
With 10 goals and 10 assists in 37 games in all competitions in 2012, Paulinho was a pivotal figure as Corinthians lifted the Copa Libertadores as well as the FIFA Club World Cup, cementing his place in Felipe Scolari’s squad.
Chelsea, Manchester City and, more recently, Inter Milan – who had a £12.7m offer for Paulinho rejected by Corinthians – have been tracking the 24-year-old progress but, despite the interest, Paulinho stated his desire to remain in Brazil at least until after the World Cup. That won’t affect the transfer rumours with Tottenham the latest club to be linked. Either way, the boy has potential and would be a welcome addition to any of the top Premier League teams.
One of the youngest men to have made the cut when Felipe Scolari named his team for the Confederations Cup (and also the smallest), Bernard enjoyed an excellent season for Atletico Mineiro in 2012, scoring 11 goals and assisting 12 in 36 league games, while he netted three times in 8 Copa Libertadores appearancees this season.
Twice released by his club’s youth system because of his height, the pint sized midfielder – he’s 5ft 4 – is normally deployed as left winger, but can also operate on the right flank as well as an attacking midfielder behind the main striker.
Bernard’s silky touch and ability to find spaces in between the lines have drawn comparisons with David Silva and while it might be premature to compare him with the City’s schemer, the Brazilian has already attracted the attentions of many.
Atletico Mineiro have already turned down offers from Al Ahli Doha and Spartak Moscow for the 2012 Brazilian League Young Player of the Year and he won’t come cheap. With Dortmund and Spurs monitoring the youngster, it might not be long before the 20-year-old waves goodbye to Brazil. Two weeks ago, quotes emerged that his “future was in Europe”, the latest update is that Bernard said there is “no chance I will leave before the [end of the] Libertadores” and apparently fellow Brazilian Dante has been in his ear about moving to Germany. Looks like we won’t know until July, but in the meantime the papers will be happy to turn his one in to the new Damiao!
For years Brazilians have been accused of not being able to produce midfielders who took the defensive aspects of the games as seriously as the attacking ones. First Flavio Conceicao, then Ramires and more recently Sandro went a long way to debunk that belief and Fernando could offer further proof that Brazilians like to defend as much as they like to attack.
The 21-year-old Gremio man is a no-nonsense defensive midfielder with a twist…not only does he get stuck in and close players down in a split second, he is quick, can dribble and drive in to space and has a cannon of a shot…if Brazilian’s did DM’s…
Intensity and a high tempo aren’t characteristics normally associated with Brazilian football, but both are crucial aspects of Fernando’s game, as demonstrated by the 10 yellow cards he picked up during Gremio’s league campaign last season.
Roma have been tracking the 21-year-old for sometime now, but expect them to face some competitions for the midfielder if he impresses at the Confederations Cup.
*Please note – this was written earlier this week, prior to Shakthar Donetsk announcing on Thursday 13th that they had signed Fernando for €11m. Thanks Shakthar.
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