With the likes of Gerson, Alisson (both AS Roma), Ganso (Sevilla) and Alexandre Pato (Villarreal) swapping South America for Europe, we have a look at the five hottest prospects in Brazil who could be heading across the Atlantic this summer.
Gabriel Jesus (Palmeiras)
Gabriel Fernando de Jesus or commonly known as Gabriel Jesus is the most sought-after Brazilian in world football right now. The 19-year-old born in Sao Paulo plays for the state club and major rivals Palmeiras and is undoubtedly their most important player. He joined Verdao in 2013 as a 16-year-old and it took them almost nine months to renew his contract after he had scored 37 goals in 22 games in the U17 Sao Paulo State Championship in 2014. Since then he’s been widely rated as the most promising youngster to have graduated from the club’s youth ranks in recent times.
Gabriel Jesus, who has a special talent for unlocking defences, has made over 65 appearances for the first team, scoring 26 times and played an important role in Palmeiras’ Brazilian Cup-winning campaign. Dubbed as the “new Neymar” by the media due to his style of play and talent, the teenager was the part of the Brazil national team that came runners-up at the 2015 FIFA-U20 World Cup and will now feature in the 2016 Olympics. Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester United are all interested in his services, however, Manchester City are reportedly the favourites to land him this summer.
Gabriel Barbosa Almeida known as just Gabriel or Gabigol is another talented player from Brazil who has attracted interest from many top European clubs over the past year. The 19-year-old plays for his home club Santos and is their top talent coming through the ranks. The versatile forward, who can play up front as a striker or on the wings, made his first team debut in 2013 as a 16-year-old kid and since has gone on to make 152 appearances for the Pixies scoring 56 times. The teenager, who was named as the Best Newcomer in 2015, made his international debut in May this year against Panama. Since then he has made four appearances for the national team scoring twice.
Gabigol is represented by Wagner Ribeiro and the Brazilian agent believes the promising forward can emulate the success of the illustrious stars – Kaka, Robinho and Neymar – he previously helped move to Europe. Chelsea and Inter Milan are interested, but according to various reports Juventus are the favourites to sign the teenager after agreeing on a fee with Santos. However, Barcelona have a clause that gives them first refusal. The forward, who is lethal inside the area, capable of beating defenders in one-on-one situations and has bags of potential, would be a great addition to any side.
Luan Guilherme de Jesus Vieira or simply known as Luan is the third forward on this list who has attracted interest from many top clubs in Europe by his performances in Brazil. The 23-year-old started out with futsal in his native state before he played for Tanabi, America-SP and Cantanduvense. Shortly after making his debut for Catanduvense, he moved to Gremio and made his first team debut a year later in 2014 in the 1-0 away loss to San Jose. Since then the 5ft 11in striker has been an integral part of the team making a total of 105 appearances for the Tricolor and finding the back of the net on 25 occasions.
Luan, who was selected in last season’s Campeonato Brasileiro team of the year and voted best forward alongside Ricardo Oliveria (Santos), was linked with a move to Premier League champions Leicester City earlier in the summer. However, the transfer didn’t materialise as the two clubs couldn’t find an agreement over the fee. Barcelona are reportedly interested in signing the false nine as a backup option for the prolific Luis Suarez, while he has also been subject to enquiries from Chinese clubs and an English-based investor group.
Rodrigo Caio (Sao Paulo)
Rodrigo Caio Coquette Russo, who is commonly known as Rodrigo Caio, is the only defender on the list who has attracted interest from many European clubs in the past year or so. The 22-year-old is a product of Sao Paulo’s famed academy and started his career as a defensive midfielder. In 2012, in a 3-2 win against Santos, he played at right back, with the responsibility of marking Neymar. After the game, Caio was praised by the press for his success in shutting down the Santista forward. A year later, he was moved to centre back and since has been one of the consistent performers for the Tricolor Paulista, making over 165 appearances.
While not the tallest, Caio is a leader in the dressing room, versatile, strong in the tackle, reads the game very impressively and is very good with the ball at his feet. He has seemed on the brink of a departure from Brazil for a while now, with Atletico Madrid and Valencia both going close to landing him last summer. Those moves ultimately didn’t materialise, though, as he failed his medical twice. This summer, he has been linked with a move to Chelsea, Sevilla and Lazio with the Serie A club reportedly agreeing on a fee with Sao Paulo.
Lucas Lima (Santos)
Lucas Rafael Araujo Lima commonly known as just Lucas Lima has a different story from other Brazilians on this list and is a relatively a late developer. The 26-year-old playmaker showed some skill playing for Internacional but chances were limited. He was loaned away to Sport Recife in 2013, then when he returned to Inter, he was sold to Santos for just €1m. He began to grow steadily at the Vila Belmiro and has made over 135 appearances for the Pixies. His consistency prompted a call-up for Brazil last year against Costa Rica and he has broken into the starting XI.
Lucas Lima, who is known for his ability to influence a game with his movement and passing, has been linked with a host of top European clubs this summer. The likes of Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and Real Madrid are all interested. However, if reports in Italy are to be believed, AC Milan are the favourites to sign the number 10 at the request of Chinese investors who are soon to take over the club. The deal, though, won’t be straight forward and is complicated by third party ownership.
This article is written by Shantanu Ambekar, you can follow him on Twitter at @ShantanuAmbekar. What are your thoughts? Let us know by dropping a comment via our comments box below. Make sure you follow us on Twitter, Google+, Instagram and like us on Facebook.