To the uninitiated, the Brazilian Serie A is often maligned as nothing more than a humble ‘farmers league’ that loses all of its talent before they have a chance to make an impact at home.
It is often true that the best Brazilian players leave for Europe at a young age. Only three of Brazil’s victorious 2019 Copa America squad were playing in the country, but there are many great players who stay in Brazil well into their careers.
Players from Brazil – unless they have Neymar-like talent – often have to prove themselves at slightly smaller clubs before they get a shot at the big time.
Here, we take a look at five of the best players the Campeonato Brasileiro has to offer, each of whom have never played for a European club, as well as the sides they would suit.
Gremio winger Everton Soares is arguably the best footballer currently playing in Brazil. He was the 2019 Copa America’s top scorer, and also won the Copa Libertadores with Gremio back in 2017. He is a true superstar in waiting.
How Everton hasn’t been picked up by a big European club already is insane. Carlo Ancelotti has been an admirer for a while and links with Napoli haven’t dissipated, but they have followed him to Everton – the club, that is.
A move to another of Ancelotti’s former clubs Chelsea would arguably suit Everton best. Valued around £30m, he’d prove a bargain for whoever signs him.
‘When football becomes art’ is a phrase that can be used to describe Flamengo star Giorgian De Arrascaeta.
The Uruguayan attacking midfielder is the full package. He’s got flair, can score from anywhere, and can pick a pass through a minefield. His signing inspired Flamengo to their Campeonato and Copa Libertadores double last season, as he scored 14 goals and assisted 17.
A wonderful player who, at 26, is approaching the peak of his powers, De Arrascaeta would fit into any club in the world. With Lautaro Martinez expected to leave Inter, he’d be an ideal replacement. Failing that, Atletico Madrid could do with him if Saul departs this summer.
Gremio have one of the most exciting forward lines in Brazil, and Matheus Henrique is the reason they can be so flamboyant. Henrique can read a match so well that he’s drawn comparisons with the likes of Gilberto Silva and Fernandinho, and he can time a tackle as if he’s been made by Rolex.
Gremio are set up in a similar way to Liverpool, with Henrique sitting deep to let players like Everton and Thiago Neves create all manner of opportunities.
He’d be a great addition to the Reds squad, and he’d also improve Tottenham’s midfield – they’d be able to get him for less than £20m, too.
Soteldo is perhaps the most exciting player Venezuela have ever produced. The winger currently plays for Santos and really impressed in his first season last year with ten goals, as Santos missed out on the league title to an imperious Flamengo.
His ability to play on either flank would benefit a number of clubs, but nobody needs a quality winger more than AC Milan.
If England is his next destination, his style of play would suit Manchester United, especially if they miss out on Jadon Sancho. Milan and United need exciting revamps, and Soteldo would certainly help in that regard.
Flamengo spent a lot of money to achieve their historic double last season, and Rodrigo Caio was one of the best bits of business they did. Signed from São Paulo, he’s been one of the finest defenders in Brazil since 2013.
Commanding and uncompromising, Caio deserves a chance to show just how good he is. He’s been touted as the natural replacement to Gerard Pique at Barcelona, which is high praise indeed. He could very easily slot into the Barça back line, but Manchester City are in even more need of a colossal centre back and Caio would be the perfect foil to Aymeric Laporte.
City really need a couple of centre backs, but since Caio is valued at less than £10m, they’d still be able to look for another one if they did sign him.