At the start of this season’s Brasileirão, few had heard of Gremio’s playmaker Arthur Henrique Ramos de Oliveira Melo, more commonly known as ‘Arthur’. The diminutive midfielder burst onto the scene with a string of fine performances that have earned him a call-up to the seleção and could land him a move to Europe and a place on the plane to Russia for next year’s World Cup.

Arthur has been a mainstay of Gremio’s midfield as the Porto Alegre side have assured themselves of a top four finish in the league, and are on course to winning the Copa Libertadores, having won the first leg of the final 1-0 against Lanus. The second leg in Buenos Aires is tonight and it could well be Arthur’s final appearance for ‘Imortal Tricolor’.

Gremio turned down a bid for him in the summer from an unnamed Premier League club, but with the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea, Barcelona and Manchester United all circling, it looks likely that Arthur will be moving to Europe in the January transfer window.

Brazil have a glittering array of attacking talent and some of the world’s best defenders but if they have an area of weakness ahead of next year’s World Cup it is in midfield. A midfield three of Casemiro, Paulinho and Renato Augusto is good, but probably not at the level of European heavyweights Spain and Germany.

Arthur is a midfielder who can do it all, boasting an average passing accuracy of 93% plus 3 tackles/interceptions per game in the league this season. He possesses a burst of pace and the vision to play imaginative passes, which has seen him compared to Andres Iniesta, and he could just be the final piece in Brazil’s jigsaw as they aim to win their first World Cup since 2002.



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The Copa América is now held every four years and the last edition was in 2015, where Chile won their first title after defeating Argentina in the final on a penalty shootout after a goalless draw.  Even though the Copa América is usually held every four years, we have an additional tournament in 2016, the Copa América Centenario, as part of the competition’s centenary celebrations.

The Copa América Centenario kicks off on June 3rd and we have come up with some of the potential stars of the tournament who may not yet be household names.

Marlos Moreno (Colombia)

Colombia has produced some fine attacking players in recent years and Marlos Moreno could be the next from a nation that has produced the likes of Falcao, James Rodriguez and Faustino Asprilla. Moreno has starred in Atletico Nacional’s run to the semi-finals of this year’s Copa Libertadores, and this has attracted the interest of some of Europe’s biggest clubs. Inter, Bayer Leverkusen, Porto and Benfica have all reportedly approached the 19 year-old who would cost around €10m.

A good Copa América for Moreno would surely bump this price up and with Falcao left out the squad, Moreno has a chance to announce himself to the world in the US this summer.  Moreno is equally comfortable playing wide or through the middle and he will surely be a useful option as Jose Pekerman aims to take Colombia further than the quarter-final exits his side suffered at the 2014 World Cup and last year’s Copa América in Chile.

Christian Pulisic (United States)

In Dortmund’s tricky playmaker, the United States may have finally found the global star they have craved. 17 year-old Christian Pulisic has forced his way into Thomas Tuchel’s Borussia Dortmund first team squad since Christmas and will almost certainly be given his chance in Jurgen Klinsmann’s US side this summer.

Pulisic scored in consecutive games against Hamburg and Stuttgart in April, and with his low centre of gravity, ability to glide past players and calmness infront of goal, he has been compared to former Dortmund hero Mario Gotze. As hosts, USA will be expecting to progress from a tough Group A and Pulisic could be the one to provide them with that extra bit of quality in the final third that will be needed if they are to make an impact this summer.

Gabriel Barbosa (Brazil)

Gabriel Barbosa Almeida or ‘Gabigol’ is one of the most coveted teenagers on the planet. Dubbed the ‘new Neymar’, Gabriel already has a wealth of experience in Brazil’s Serie A, with over 50 appearances and 19 goals to his name already. With Neymar left out of the Copa América squad, Gabriel should finally be given the chance to impress for the famous Selecao.

Gabriel has the platform to boost his reputation further this summer by representing his country in both the Copa América and the Olympics and if he impresses, it should accelerate his inevitable move to one of Europe’s giants with PSG, Barcelona and Real Madrid leading a host of clubs in Europe that would love to secure his signature.

Profiling Gabriel Barbosa, The Next Santos Star?

Edison Flores (Peru)

Peru are the great underachievers of South American football. Thy have not won the Copa América since 1975 and the last time that they qualified for a World Cup was in 1982. This is surprising because over the last decade the likes of Juan Manuel Vargas, Claudio Pizarro and Jefferson Farfán have all played for Los Incas.

The Peruvian Copa América squad lacks household names but that could all change this summer if Edison Flores leaves his mark. The 22-year-old attacker has already played in Europe for Villarreal B. However, things didn’t work out and after only 20 months he returned to Peru and signed for Universitario. Since his return to Peru the tricky attacker has been terrorising defences and this has resulted in recognition at continental level. The Copa América could bring him to the attention of the world and possibly another opportunity to play in Europe.

Antonio Sanabria (Paraguay)

20-year-old Antonio Sanabria ended the 2015/16 season with 11 goals for Sporting de Gijón. This is an impressive feat as it was his first full season and for a side that spent the entire campaign battling against relegation. The Paraguyan excelled in Gijón, leading the line in 4-2-3-1 and was hailed as a revelation.

Despite making his debut for Parguay in 2013 aged 17-years, he only has 5 caps to his name. With Lucas Barrios and Roque Santa Cruz left out of the squad, he will be looking to increase this number as well as score his first international goal, whilst proving that he can be the next No.9 for Paraguay for years to come.

Roma seem intent on cashing in on the ex-Barcelona youth academy player this summer and the player’s agent has already received numerous phone calls from Italy. A good performance at the Copa América will lead to even more clubs interested in securing his services ahead of the 2016/17 season.

Blás Riveros (Paraguay)

Barcelona, Benfica and Manchester United were all interested in securing the services of  18-year-old Blás Riveros but it was Swiss champions Basel that won the race for his signature. This is probably the best move for the teenager’s fledgling career, as he has only featured in 21 professional games for Olimpia over the course of two seasons.

The left-sided defender is yet to feature for Paraguay and is heading into the tournament as back-up for the experienced Miguel Samudio of Club América. If he is given his chance by Ramón Ángel Díaz, he will seize his opportunity in the tournament.

Blás Riveros will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of fellow Paraguayan, Derlis González, who used Basel as a springboard to a bigger club and also to become a regular for the national team.




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In an aged midfield such as the Brazilian one, new talents mean that Luiz Gustavo and Fernandinho are able to take a breath. In fact in the Brazil National team over the past few years we’ve seen many older players playing as playmaker or defensive midfielders, in addition to those previously named: Ramires, Hernanes, Renato Augusto, Lucas Leiva, Elias, Paulinho…

Big clubs are always looking for young talents, and National teams too. Dunga likes to give young talents a chance and so decided to preserve his best players to help them. He said about young players picked up from the U23 National Team: “They are not boys, they are professionals, men playing with responsibility for their clubs. It is important to give them experience. We always try to merge so that they acquire more experience in the squad. Players need to understand that they are here for the Copa América, and not the Olympics. The future depends on the present.”

Of those young players there is a talent who will possibly go to the next Olympics: Walace Souza Silva.

It would be strange not to see Walace in the Olympic Brazilian team: with the Championship starting soon, we will surely see Walace as a regular in Gremio’s line up. But who is this Brazilian boy?

Wanted by a host of big European clubs, especially a number of Italian teams, Walace doesn’t want to miss the chance to take the plunge. At 21 years old, he’s a natural defensive midfielder but can also play as a CM and in the number 10 position. He’s really good at tackling, aerial duels and shooting from distance, a wonderful mix of technical qualities and physical gifts. Fast for his height, he’s a nice dribbler too and proficient in passing from long distances.

He has to improve his mental approach as is the case with almost all young players, because he lacks concentration when pressed by the opposition and he must impose himself more in the bigger games.

His playing style can be compared to that of Pogba. Indeed he’s not mature and not trained in the same way as the Frenchman, but he has some similar qualities and needs to work on the same mental weaknesses as Pogba. He’s a diamond in the rough and he needs to refine his unripe features.

Recently Tottenham have been linked with a £7 million bid, however Gremio’s president dismissed the idea of a summer transfer to Spurs being sanctioned. However if Walace showcases his undoubted talent this season, then it will surely be hard for Gremio to hold on to their next star player.

This is just one of the young players to keep an eye on, if he gets his chance to represent  Brazil at the Olympics games. All the soccer fans want to see new champions rising and this boy definitely has the right foundations in place be one of them!

About the author – Marco Santanche

Marco was born in Rome and supports Inter because of Luiz Nazario Da Lima Ronaldo. He is a Brazilian citizen because of his father’s roots. He played futsal for several years, even in the FIGC (Italian FA) as a winger, playmaker and striker. He is now studying for a degree in finance.


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In the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil, you will find one of the most successful clubs in South America: Corinthians, the Timao.

Corinthians have been home to some of the best Brazilian players of recent times such as Adriano, Pato, Ronaldo and so on. Within this glorious club there’s a young player who is on his way to becoming a star: Matheus Pereira.

This youngster has played for Corinthians since the age of 11. He started playing for the first team in the Copa do Brazil against Santos, under the guidance of the Corinthians’ coach Tite. He hasn’t made that many appearances for Corinthians, but has played for the Under-17 squad and won Under-17 Club World Cup.

Some Corinthians fans remember him for having missed a penalty in the Copa Sao Paulo final against Flamengo, which ultimately cost his team the trophy. He attempted a Panenka but it ended up hitting the bar and he was the only one from his team to make a mistake. His coach will have reprimanded him for his haughtiness, but in a way this shows his courage. He cried after missing the penalty, which demonstrated his loyalty and affection for the club.

However, with the Under-17 team, he has scored some beautiful goals, for example the one against Barcelona or the stunning goal from midfield against Sporting Crystal.

His nickname is Pirulao, which represents a tall, thin man. He’s just a boy but he is 1.81 m tall. He’s left footed. He can play as a playmaker or CM and his best qualities are tackling, passing and dribbling. He’s very skillful but like many left-footed players he doesn’t make use of the right foot very much. He has to improve his physical endurance, mentality and become more aggressive before he will be ready for a move to Europe. Especially in Italy, where Juventus FC appear to be interested in him, physical qualities and an aggressive mentality are vital.

Now Matheus Pereira is 18 years old and he’s dreaming of a transfer to Europe: what will happen to this rising Brazilian star?

He’s a transfer target for Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid. He’s valued at 2 million, but with the rumored battle for his signature, this could lead to a significant increase in his price.

The two Spanish destinations could be the best for him, but he won’t be more than a member of the youth team. There he will have to compete against other young talents and fight hard to show his qualities. Signing for Juventus instead could mean that he would have more opportunities to become a first team player much sooner.

Whatever happens we hope to see another hot prospect from Brazil showcase his talents on the European stage!

About the author – Marco Santanche

Marco was born in Rome and supports Inter because of Luiz Nazario Da Lima Ronaldo. He is a Brazilian citizen because of his father’s roots. He played futsal for several years, even in the FIGC (Italian FA) as a winger, playmaker and striker. He is now studying for a degree in finance.


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Of all the teams in Sao Paulo (Brazil) there’s a team where stars never stop shining: Santos FC. From Pelè to Neymar, the next young Brazilian talent from the Peixe (“fish” in English, because Santos is the only club next to the sea out of the 4 major clubs in Sao Paulo) could be Gabriel Barbosa.

Quick, skillful, fast, with good long range passing ability, he plays mainly at CF and RW. Predominantly left footed, he loves to play defence splitting through balls and to target the opposition defences at pace. Growing up in the youth ranks, he was he was affectionately referred to as “Gabigol” by his team mates as a result of him scoring over 100 goals for his team.

At a Height of 1.78 cms, he’s possesses good heading ability. On top of this his finishing ability for someone so young, gives him the foundations to become a top CF. He can also play as a playmaker because of his good range of passing. Although at present he hasn’t scored as much for the Santos First Team,  he’s a player developing at a fast rate, and has attracted admiring glances from a number of top European clubs, who are eager to unearth the next footballing superstar from Brazil.

However, to fulfill his potential and become a future star, he has to improve his work rate, defensive attitude and tactical positioning: he rarely helps his team in pressing and recovering the ball, he never tackles and has to improve his right foot shooting. His mental approach is aggressive, sometimes a little too much: in a match against Sao Paulo he scored and took off his shirt, gaining a second yellow card. Santos lost that match in the last minutes. His Brazil U20 team won the Cotif Youth Cup in Spain, but he didn’t play in the final having being dismissed in the match against Argentina.

However, at 19 years old, surely it is only a matter of time before he moves to Europe, where he can develop his talent and mentality. If he continues training, developing and progressing with his team, he has the potential become one of the best Brazilian players in the world.

About the Author – Marco Santanche

Marco was born in Rome and supports Inter because of Luis Nazario da Lima Ronaldo. He’s a Brazilian citizen because of his father’s roots, and he has played futsal for several years, even in FIGC (the Italian FA) as a winger, playmaker and striker. He is now studying for a degree in finance.


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Throughout history, Brazilian footballers  have always been renowned for their skills, technique, speed and defensive solidity too. It’s safe to say that it is possible to find  Brazilian legends in almost all positions, such as Roberto Carlos, Cafu, Carlos Alberto, Kaka, Socrates, Rivelino, Zico, Garrincha, Ronaldo, Pele, and Romario, to name but a few.

But it’s really hard to find many top Brazilian goalkeepers. Without taking anything away from legends such as Nelson Dida, Julio Cesar, Claudio Taffarel or Rogerio Ceni, the role has never been considered a Brazilian speciality.

We found a very hot prospect for the future of Brazil. A young goalkeeper called Alisson Becker who plays for Internacional and there’s a very good chance he’s going to transfer to A.S. Roma in July

.At 23 years old, he possesses good reactions, is a key member in his team’s squad and starting line up.  As you would expect to find with most Brazilians he is good with his feet, however he has to improve his mental approach to the matches, to eradicate potential problems developing from what should be avoidable situations.

STRENGTHS: Reactivity, agility, footwork, goal cover, physique and height

WEAKNESSES: pressure handling, self-confidence.

Prior to the emergence of Becker, the Brazilian goal was defended by Jefferson, who is perhaps not considered a ‘top’ goalkeeper and in all fairness is not a household name outside of Brazil.

With his reputation on the rise, he is certainly one to keep an eye on for the future. Also with him set to be called up regularly by the Brazilian national team combined with the proposed transfer to AS Roma, he certainly has the right foundations in place for him to develop even further.

At the age of 23 he has a decade and beyond ahead of him. Who knows, we could be talking about him in the same sentence as other Brazilian legends when we look back on his career in years to come.

About the Author – Marco Santanche

Marco was born in Rome and supports Inter because of Luis Nazario da Lima Ronaldo. He’s a Brazilian citizen because of his father’s roots, and he played futsal for several years, even in FIGC (the italian FA) as a winger, playmaker, striker. He is now studying for a degree in finance.


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The style of play may not be to everyone’s taste, but Real Madrid deserve credit for their defensive record since Rafael Benitez took charge in the summer. Nolito’s fine strike in Madrid’s 3-1 victory over Celta Vigo on Saturday was only the third goal they have conceded in La Liga this term, the best record of any team in Europe’s five major divisions.

Goalkeeper Keylor Navas has been in inspired form between the sticks – the Costa Rica international has recovered admirably from being lined up as a makeweight for Manchester United’s David de Gea in the summer transfer window – and the overall organisation of the team has been impressive, but defensive midfielder Casemiro deserves a huge amount of credit for his contributions to Madrid’s watertight rearguard in recent weeks.

Casemiro first moved to the Spanish capital in January 2013, signing for Real Madrid’s B side from Sao Paulo, the club he had joined 11 years previously as a 10-year-old boy. He made his senior debut for Los Blancos towards the end of his first campaign, playing the full 90 minutes in a 3-1 defeat of Real Betis at the Santiago Bernabeu. 25 appearances in all competitions followed in 2013-14, before Casemiro spent the following season on loan at Porto.

With Toni Kroos, Luca Modric and Mateo Kovacic also at the club, it was unclear how often Casemiro would be given a chance after returning to Madrid this term. He has, however, taken full advantage of his recent inclusion in the XI and Benitez’s commitment to squad rotation: having performed well against neighbours Atletico and Levante domestically and Malmo and Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League, the Brazilian was excellent again in the weekend’s top-of-the-table clash with Celta.

Madrid lined up in a rather conservative 4-3-3, with Jese and Lucas Vazquez routinely tracking back on the flanks so that the shape resembled more of a 4-1-4-1 out of possession. The man tasked with sitting in front of the back four was Casemiro, who did an unglamorous job with the minimum of fuss.

Within the first 90 seconds, the 23-year-old had already snapped into his first tackle of the afternoon. It was to prove a running theme: Casemiro broke up play expertly, making blocks, interceptions and tackles and then sensibly recycling the ball to one of his colleagues close by. As a result of his disciplined positioning – Casemiro rarely moved ahead of the line of the ball – Luka Modric and Toni Kroos were able to shuttle forward and join the attack without worrying about leaving huge swathes of space behind them.

Madrid, in truth, were rather fortunate to concede only once at Balaidos, with Celta missing some fabulous chances and Navas making a couple of wonderful stops.

Their approach in general, meanwhile, will only have served to divide supporters further: some will praise the team’s organisation, commitment and discipline against an outfit who have started the season magnificently, but many more will not be happy at seeing arguably the world’s biggest club cede possession and territory to such an extent.

That debate, however, should not preclude Casemiro’s showings from being recognised or appreciated, who has done brilliantly since coming into the team. The Brazilian may find himself on the bench again when the injuries subside, while the merits of deploying him as a midfield anchor decrease when it comes to home games that Madrid are expected to dominate, but he has certainly played his way into contention with his recent performances and could become a permanent fixture in the XI for tough away trips to places like Celta.

About the Author – Greg Lea

Freelance football writer. Work published by FourFourTwo, The Guardian, World Soccer, Goal, The National, Squawka, Eurosport, The Blizzard + others.

Twitter @GregLeaFootball


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