Top Brazilian talents could be European transfer targets

January 26, 2023 GMT
Brazil's Guilherme, right, celebrates scoring the opening goal during a South America U-20 Championship soccer match against Argentina in Cali, Colombia, Monday, Jan. 23, 2023. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)
Brazil's Guilherme, right, celebrates scoring the opening goal during a South America U-20 Championship soccer match against Argentina in Cali, Colombia, Monday, Jan. 23, 2023. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

SAO PAULO (AP) — European clubs looking for last-minute deals in the January transfer window could find some future stars among Brazil’s current crop of young soccer talents.

The focus on Brazilian players is always big during transfer periods and the spotlight only intensified after Real Madrid’s signing of teenage sensation Endrick on a deal reportedly worth nearly 60 million euros ($65.3 million).

Here’s a look at some of the other top young players in the Brazilian league, including some who have already drawn the interest of European clubs:

GUILHERME BIRO

The 18-year-old started as a left-back at Corinthians, but his best performances have come as a midfielder — both for the club’s academy and the Brazil Under-20 team which is currently playing in the South American championship in Colombia. Biro’s Carlos Valderrama-like hairstyle is almost as eye-catching as his through balls and runs. He only played two matches for Corinthians’ first team in 2022, but is expected to take on a bigger role this year. He has been linked with Sevilla and Porto, with the Sao Paulo-based Corinthians having set his release clause at 30 million euros ($32.6 million).

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MATHEUS FRANÇA

The 18-year-old Flamengo striker was expected to play at the U20 South American championship, but his club wanted to keep him at home. Newcastle has reportedly made three offers for the right-footed forward, which were all rejected by the Rio de Janeiro club. He has played 29 matches for Flamengo and scored seven goals. França can shoot from long range, dribble and is a keen poacher in front of goal. He could struggle for playing time at the defending Copa Libertadores champions, who have several top strikers in their squad.

JEFFINHO

The 23-year-old Botafogo striker was one of the team’s main players in the latest edition of the Brazilian championship. He scored five goals and provided seven assists in 42 matches for the Rio de Janeiro club. Jeffinho is a sharp dribbler who plays on the left flank. Coach Luis Castro said in several interviews he wants to keep the striker this year but the club expects to sell him for about 10 million euros ($11 million). Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk reportedly made a smaller offer recently which was rejected.

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LUAN CÂNDIDO

The Red Bull Bragantino left-back, who turns 22 on Feb. 1, almost made Brazil’s World Cup squad thanks to his strong defending, stamina and sharp crosses. He played in Germany early in his career, but his best performances have come for the Brazilian club. Last year, he scored 13 goals for the team in 50 matches. The left-back struggled with bookings throughout 2022 and said in interviews this year he wants to improve his disciplinary record.

DEIVID

The 17-year-old Santos striker wants to follow in the footsteps of Neymar, one of his idols. Deivid is yet to make his professional debut but has already attracted so much attention in his youth-division matches that the club has set his transfer fee at 18 million euros ($19.6 million). The slender teenager can play on the right and also as a target man. Last year, Deivid was the top goal scorer at the Sao Paulo state U17 championship with 19 goals and finished second in the U17 Brazilian championship with 10 goals.

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