Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior and Barcelona's Arthur head up Brazil's new European wave

Alex Rea 2/08/2018
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Brazil failed to dominate at the 2018 World Cup but they have ruled elsewhere this summer.

The transfer window has been taken over by Brazilian players making moves and many of the money-spinning switches haven’t even involved stars who featured in Russia.

Indeed, of the current top-20 transfers this summer, nine hail from the South American nation with potentially more business on the way with Chelsea’s Willian linked to Real Madrid.

With that in mind, we examine some of those brilliant Brazilians aged 25 and under. You’ll no doubt notice a trend which links a number of them.

FRED

Manchester United v Real Madrid - International Champions Cup 2018

Age

25

Transfer

Shakhtar Donetsk to Manchester United – €60m

Position

Box-to-box midfielder

What they say about him

Ilya Novikov of Tribuna.com to ESPN.com: “Fred is very good at moving forward, providing quality through-balls. He feels comfortable under pressure, and his dribbling skills are good for a holding midfielder too.”

What to expect

Jose Mourinho’s face has turned a shade redder with each passing day of United’s fractious pre-season tour, and it’s not because of the American sun.

Preparations have been far from ideal with a number of key players missing. However, the early outings for Fred will have drained some of the Portuguese’s frustration.

Mourinho wants and needs his side to be quicker in the transition and the 25-year-old could be the answer.

He’s sharp, incisive and embraces manoeuvring out of tight spaces. A midfielder who meshes bravery in finding a difficult option through to the attack, with the simplicity of retaining possession when necessary, Fred could prove a quality acquisition.

VINICIUS JUNIOR

FBL-ESP-LIGA-REAL MADRID

Age

18

Transfer

Flamengo to Real Madrid – €45m

Position

Wide forward

What they say about him

Real Madrid boss Julen Lopetegui: “He started a little shy, but then he came on in leaps and bounds. He is very young and has to adapt to this style of football and what we ask of players.”

What to expect

Fireworks. When in space, anyway. He’s only just turned 18 so expectations have to be tempered – not a quality you naturally associate with fervent Real  fans – but he could be set for a significant role this season.

A confident mentality unlocks the silky skill in his feet, but it will be a case of adjusting and adapting to know when to go and when to responsibly recycle possession.

Weaponised out wide, he could be set to push the likes of Marco Asensio in supplementing a forward line which will be metaphorically spearheaded by Gareth Bale with Cristiano Ronaldo gone.

It’s unlikely he’ll be sent out on loan giving the thinness of Lopetegui’s attacking options so flashy step overs could well grace the Bernabeu this season.

ALISSON BECKER

FBL-WC-2018-MATCH53-BRA-MEX

Age

25

Transfer

Roma to Liverpool – €72.5m

Position

Goalkeeper

What they say about him

Former Roma coach Roberto Negrisolo: “He is the Messi of goalkeepers, because he has the same mentality as Messi. He is a goalkeeper who can define an era.”

What to expect

Find a weakness and then fix it has been Jurgen Klopp’s transfer policy this summer.

Some problem areas have been more acute than others and the No1 spot was certainly the most prominent for Liverpool.

Is Alisson the solution? There were anxious performances in the Champions League, ironically against Liverpool, and also in Russia with Brazil but his overall body of work points to an outstanding goalkeeper.

Alisson’s movement to narrow the target is well analysed and marvelled. His distribution, long or short, is superior to international team-mate and Manchester City stopper Ederson while statistically few were better last season (17 clean sheets was the most in Serie A).

He will be Liverpool’s No1 next season and given his age, their No1 for a long time to come.

FABINHO

Blackburn Rovers v Liverpool - Pre-Season Friendly

Age

24

Transfer

Monaco to Liverpool – €50m

Position

Defensive midfielder

What they say about him

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp: “He’s a fantastic football player, a good passer, his challenges are good, a proper defensive midfielder with the option of being a No8 as well, his heading is good.”

What to expect

Midfielders are a rare breed on this list but within that position, Fabinho is a pure thoroughbred.

When players are talked about as being versatile, it’s usually with a sense they have a decent grasp of a couple of positions.

Yet Fabinho genuinely thrives whether at full-back, No6 or No8. Klopp has stressed a period of assimilation will be key to his development with the Reds and that’s been highlighted in pre-season.

The pressing and intensity of playing under Klopp will require adaption given the much slower and counter-attacking style of Monaco.

But he’s smart and subtle in his talent, which lends well to the No6 slot that is open for the Brazilian in the new season.

Positionally improvements are needed. He’s sat a little too deep in pre-season, but long-term he adds tactical intelligence to Liverpool’s midfield.

PAULINHO

FBL-BRA-GER-BUNDESLIGA-PAULINHO

Age

18

Transfer

Vasco da Gama to Bayer Leverkusen – €25m

Position

Wide forward

What they say about him

Vasco da Gama head coach and former Brazil right-back Jorginho: “Paulinho will grow much more. He has huge potential. He’s fast and strong and will be working with a young coach, who has a very well-defined system which will help him a lot.”

What to expect

One move which has gone slightly under the radar this summer but deserves attention is Bayer Leverkusen’s capture of Paulinho.

The 18-year-old joins a club with a lineage of nurturing some of Brazil’s finest exports to Europe with Ze Roberto, Lucio, Emerson and Renato Augusto all flourishing in the red and black of Bayer.

Primarily a right-winger, he was used on either flank, as a No10 and even in the centre-forward slot while with Vasco.

The Bundesliga can look forward to an attacker who harnesses an explosive style through a physical frame and his link-up with Julian Brandt, Kai Havertz and of course Leon Bailey makes for a dynamic and deadly attack.

Don’t be surprised to see him slam home strikes with his mallet of a right foot next season, whether that be from left as an inverted winger or from his natural slot on the opposite side.

MALCOM

FBL-US-ICC-ROMA-BARCELONA

Age

21

Transfer

Bordeaux to Barcelona – €41m

Position

Wide forward

What they say about him

Former Bordeaux boss Jocelyn Gourvennec: “Like all the big players in Ligue 1, Malcom is a special player like Jean-Michael Seri at Nice, Nabil Fekir in Lyon or Thomas Lemar in Monaco, it’s these players who make the difference.”

What to expect   

Considering the histrionics surrounding his subsequent move, Barcelona fans will be hoping Malcom was worth all the trouble.

Ligue 1 has been mined for its diamonds in recent seasons with the likes of Ousmane Dembele and Bernardo Silva excavated by European powerhouses.

Malcom is another jewel, one who is a carat less in quality and development than PSG’s Kylian Mbappe but can join his new team-mate Dembele in a refinement process.

He’s quick, very quick, but what separates the 100m sprinters from the effective elite forward is the ability to master the ball at speed.

For Malcom this is effortless and he can beat a man with ease before delivering a cutting cross or neat pass.

He’s a dynamic playmaker and one you can expect to see challenge Dembele for one of Barcelona’s forward three slots with Ernesto Valverde expected to adopt a 4-3-3 formation next season.

ARTHUR MELO

FBL-LIGA-BARCELONA-ARTHUR

Age

21

Transfer

Gremio for Barcelona – €31m

Position

No8

What they say about him

Barcelona midfielder Rafinha: “I don’t like to make comparisons usually, but he has a touch of Xavi about him. It’s the way he touches the ball, the way he passes it. He’s a great, great signing for Barcelona.”

What to expect

Rafinha hasn’t really done his team-mate any favours by drawing comparisons with one of this generation’s finest midfield talents.

However, there is considerable hype beginning to build from fellow players and fans alike, especially after his pre-season performance against Tottenham.

He’s a more withdrawn centre-midfielder but the shades of Xavi come in his master of tempo.

Granted, Arthur is still only 21 but his command of the ball and crucially, what’s around him, has plenty purring.

The problem will be how he fits into the team. Squeezing Dembele, Malcom, Philippe Coutinho, Luis Suarez and of course Lionel Messi with Arthur into an XI is slanted to one direction, attacking.

Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic provide defensive balance and it remains to be seen as to whether Arthur can do the grittier side of the game in the same way he can the finer things.

RICHARLISON

Blackburn Rovers v Everton - Pre-Season Friendly

Age

21

Transfer

Watford to Everton – €45m

Position

Winger

What they say about him

Everton coach Marco Silva: “The player himself is fast, strong, very good technically and he can play in three positions across the front line. He can also score goals.

“Evertonians will see a player who will be 100 per cent committed to helping our team always.”

What to expect   

There’s a worry the hefty price tag on his shoulders could choke the Brazilian’s ability to develop the potential in freedom.

Goodison Park can be an unforgiving ground when things aren’t going the home side’s way and there is expectation for the Blues to at least challenge the top-six. Their investment certainly mirrors the ambition.

Where there is skill and will, there is something to work with, though, and Richarlison can quieten the critics and give fans something to shout about next season.

Operating on the left of a front trio in a 4-3-3, his trickery going forward and tenacity defensively will be important for Silva.

Richarlison needs to improve his decision making as he can often run into trouble when aggressively pressed, but with Gylfi Sigurdsson now able to move into the No10 slot, that relationship could form the attacking identity of this Everton side.

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Alexis Sanchez stars in Man United's 2-1 win over Real Madrid in pre-season

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Alexis Sanchez had a goal and an assist as Manchester United won their first pre-season friendly in 90 minutes with a 2-1 victory over Real Madrid.

The Spanish giants were cut down to size early on when Matteo Darmian cut back a cross into the Madrid box for Sanchez to steer home past Kiko Casilla.

Jose Mourinho’s side doubled up nine minutes later when Sanchez turned provider.

Juan Mata delivered a cross into the box, with Sanchez cleverly heading the ball into the path of Ander Herrera on 27 minutes.

Madrid got one back just before the break through Karim Benzema, who latched on to a probing cross by Theo Hernandez.

United – who gave a start to new signing Fred – only managed 29% of the possession and completed half the number of passes Madrid managed.

The pace at the Hard Rock Stadium dropped in the second half, as Julen Lopetegui’s side made 10 changes while United gave youth prospect James Garner a run out.

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Watch: Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino against the idea of the transfer window shutting early

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Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino insists he is firmly against the idea of the transfer window closing early for English clubs after failing to bring in any players so far this summer.

The transfer window closes on Thursday, August 9 ahead of the new Premier League season a day later. It is the first time it has been brought forward after it usually closed towards the end of August.

But Pochettino says he isn’t a fan of the early transfer window deadline. Watch what he said below:

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