Brazil: the talent factory 2011 featuring Wellington Martins, Oscar, Thomás Jaguaribe Bedinelli, Rafael Cabral, Wellington Nem & Welder Silva Marçal
This weekend, Brazil’s national championship reaches round 28. So, with just 11 games to go in the league, it was high time I revealed the six players who have caught my eye this season. This is the fourth Talent Factory (2008, 2009, 2010) and in many ways it’s been the hardest to write. While much has been said of Brazil’s spending power and her new found ability to keep hold of high-profile players such as Neymar, the country continues to export young stars at an alarming rate. A number of candidates that could have made this year’s Talent Factory have already gone well before they reached their 21st birthday. Santos alone have sold Danilo and Alex Sandro to Porto, and Alan Patrick to Shakhtar Donetsk for a combined total of around €26 million. Brazil Under-20 star, Dudu, appeared for Cruzeiro just 26 times before making the switch to Dynamo Kiev for €5 million in August. Fortunately, there are more where they came from.
Once again, I’ve limited my choices to players who have appeared for their clubs in the Brasileirão. I was tempted to include Fluminense’s young right back Wallace Oliveira dos Santos who looked an exciting prospect for Brazil’s Under-17s in Mexico – but I really haven’t seen enough of him in action at club level.
I also thought Grêmio’s defensive midfielder, Fernando Lucas Martins, was outstanding for Brazil’s Under-20s in Colombia. But here again, he’s been in and out of the Grêmio first team and I just haven’t been able to get a good look at him in action.
After much deliberation, the players I went for were: Wellington Martins, Oscar dos Santos Emboaba Júnior, Thomás Jaguaribe Bedinelli, Wellington Nem, and Welder Silva Marçal.
The question always is: can they turn their early promise into success at club level or for Brazil’s senior side? Too many games and high expectations can have an adverse effect on a young player’s career. Despite the odd flash of brilliance, there have been signs that São Paulo’s Lucas Moura is looking a bit jaded at times. That shouldn’t come as surprise when you look at the 19-year-old’s relentless commitments for club and country. At the end of the Brasileirão in December 2010, Lucas joined Brazil’s Under-20s training camp in preparation for the World Cup qualifiers in Peru. After the tournament, he then returned to his club for the Campeonato Paulista. The midfielder then joined Brazil’s senior side for the Copa America in Argentina. Lucas is now playing for São Paulo in the Brasileiro, which runs until early December. Neymar had the same gruelling schedule but it doesn’t appear to have affected him quite so much. If anything, the Santos super star has got even better this year – but Neymar is exceptional in more ways than one.
So, to this season’s Talent Factory choices.
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It’s almost impossible to write a Talent Factory without featuring a player who’s come up from São Paulo Futebol Clube and their junior team training centre at Cotia. Last year, I included Lucas Moura and Casemiro who’ve gone on to make Brazil’s senior squad. This time round there were two candidates. Centreback Luis Eduardo looked good earlier this season under Milton Cruz and Paulo Cesar Carpegiani, but has been given little playing time by current coach Adílson Batista. Defensive midfielder, Wellington Martins, however, has become a regular starter and an intrinsic part of the Morumbi side. Astoundingly, Wellington made his debut for the club over three years ago but it’s only this season that he’s become a firm fixture in the first team. With the likes of Casemiro and Lucas Moura getting all the press, Wellington has been overlooked to some degree. But it’s just a question of time before that begins to change.
Wellington started in the junior ranks as a creative player then slowly slipped into the role of holding midfielder. Even though he’s eased into this more defensive function he hasn’t forgotten how to play and in recent matches and he’s been unlucky not to get on the score sheet.*
Wellington’s relatively small build could work against him. But he has attributes that more than compensate for his lack of height. The 20-year-old is comfortable in possession, his positioning is first rate, and he has the pace and tenacity to make a mark for his club and perhaps even his country (though with the plethora of defensive midfielders at Brazil’s disposal, this will not happen overnight).
*Wellington scored his first for São Paulo a month after this article was posted. But it was so good, it was worth including here
Full name: Wellington Aparecido Martins
Playing name: Wellington
Position: defensive midfielder
Date of birth: 28/01/1991
Club: São Paulo
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Oscar dos Santos Emboaba Júniorwas branded as yet another ‘new Kaká’ from an early age. Early comparisons were only natural as both are playmakers and both started their careers at São Paulo. Kaká departed on good terms (at least with the club) for AC Milan. Oscar left in an acrimonious fashion after a prolonged contact dispute with the Morumbi outfit. In reality, the two players are as different as their departures from the tricolor. Kaká’s physicality made him a driving force when he was starting his career and when he was at his peak. Injuries seem to have robbed him of that capacity and, for now at least, he’s not the athlete he was. Oscar is unlikely to have the same dynamism but he does have an array of weapons at his disposal. Chief among them is his vision and the ability to keep possession until he’s ready to release the ball for the killer pass. His refined technique is apparent in his shooting and in particular his free kicks, which can be deadly.
Oscar won plaudits for his performances for Brazil in the Under-20 World Cup in Colombia earlier this year and for many he was the player of the tournament. The award, though, went to São Paulo forward Henrique Almeida who also took the golden boot.
Oscar has a contract with Internacional until August 2016 and made his debut for Brazil’s senior side against Argentina in September 2011. The midfielder is now expected to become a regular in the squad as the South Americans prepare for next year’s Olympics and the 2014 World Cup.
Full name: Oscar dos Santos Emboaba Júnior
Playing name: Oscar
Date of birth: 09/09/1991
Clubs: São Paulo, Internacional
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In terms of emerging talent, the future is looking very bright indeed for Flamengo. Right back Rafael Galhardo, midfielder Luiz Antonio and forward Negueba have all forced their way into the first team squad this season. Adryan Oliveira Tavares, who’ll be 17 on 8th October, is one of the most gifted players at the club but has yet to be unleashed on the Brasileirão. With ability in abundance, it was a hard choice and in the end I opted for a bit of a long shot with Thomás Jaguaribe Bedinelli . Depending on where you look, the 18-year-old is listed as either an attacking midfielder or forward. Thomás had spells with CFZ (the club Zico founded), Sport Club Juiz de Fora and Botafogo before joining Flamengo’s youth set-up. The teenager was called up to the first team by Vanderlei Luxemburgo in July this year. The former Real Madrid coach has no fear when it comes to giving young athletes a chance. Thomás is one of those rarities that simply exudes confidence – so much so that Luxemburgo had no hesitation in throwing him on when Fla were trailing at home 1-0 to América MG in round 26 of the Brasileirão. On the face of it, the substitution was a huge gamble as the stakes were very high. Had Flamengo lost, it would have been their eleventh in a row without a win and more than likely, Luxemburgo would have been axed. Fortunately, Fla turned things around. Thomás put himself about and performed exceptionally well and the coach was more than able to justify his gamble on the youngster. His fearlessness, willingness to attack the opposition and tireless running are things that may take him far in the game.
At the time of writing, Thomás has made just two appearances for the Rubro Negros. He has recently renewed his contract with Flamengo until 2016.
Full name: Thomás Jaguaribe Bedinelli
Playing name: Thomás
Date of birth: 24/02/1993
Height: 1.79 m
Weight: 72 kg
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Santos keeper Rafael Cabral was outstanding during his club’s successful Libertadores campaign this year. When the boys from the Vila were struggling at the start of the tournament, it was Rafael’s saves that stopped Santos from going out.
Rafael is brave and will go in where it hurts: an indispensable quality for a keeper. He spreads himself well; thus reducing the target for the opposition. Generally, his positioning is top-notch. But deciding on whether to come for a cross or stay on his line, is an area he could improve on. Under coach Muricy Ramalho, Rafael has become adept at picking out team mates with long balls – something that Santos often use to launch counter attacks.
The keeper’s performances have already attracted Palermo who had a €4 million offer turned down in August. Rafael has also been called up to the Brazil squad by Mano Menezes but has yet to appear. The 21-year-old has a contract with Santos until the end of 2014.
Full name: Rafael Cabral Barbosa
Playing name: Rafael
Date of birth: 20/05/1990
Weight: 88 kilos
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Figueirense’s diminutive midfielder, Wellington Nem , first caught my eye in his side’s impressive 2-0 win away at Corinthians in August this year. Pace, an ability to get away from his markers and a cool finish make Nem an excellent weapon for Figueirense’s counter-attacking style of play. At 19, the predominantly left-footed midfielder has a lot to learn but seems to be benefitting from playing alongside the very experience Júlio César. Nem keeps his head up and is aware of where teammates and opponents. This basic but important trait for a young player allows him to look for options and stops him straying offside repeatedly. Wellington’s runs from deep positions make him a constant threat. His quick feet, coupled with a powerful shot, could help turn the player into a very hot property. Nem is still owned by Fluminense but is believed to have a contract with Figueirense until 2014. Check out this finish vs Palmeiras.
Full name: Wellington Silva Sanches Aguiar
Playing name: Wellington Nem
Date of birth: 06/02/1992
Clubs: América RJ (juniors), Fluminense, Figueirense (loan)
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There was a time when Corinthians used to produce a steady stream of potential through their youth scheme. The likes of Jô, Lulinha, Rosinei, Willian da Silva, Boquita, and Dentinho may have enjoyed different levels of success but at least they helped provide a backbone of home-grown talent at the Parque São Jorge club. Of the current first team, only keeper Júlio César has come up through the ranks. Corinthians’ policy these days seems to centre on ‘marquee signings’ such as Ronaldo and Adriano, or picking up relative unknowns on the cheap before shipping them on: Jucilei (now Anzhi Makhachkala), Elias (Sporting), Felipe (Flamengo), André Santos (Arsenal), and Bruno César (Benfica) are recent examples. Right wing back Welder Silva Marçal is another ‘import’. The 20-year-old did enough for Paulista FC in this year’s São Paulo State League for Corinthians to bring him in as cover and probable long-term replacement for the more experienced Alessandro. Welder, or Weldinho as he was known at Paulista, got a chance earlier than expected when Alessandro picked up an injury in this Brasileirão. His pace and an enthusiasm to run at the opposition down the right flank attack has got him noticed. Welder has also been asked to operate further up field on more than one occasion, which means a lot of tracking back for the 20-year-old. Injury limited his appearances in the middle of the Brasileirão but Welder is back with the first team and vying for a place in the starting line-up.
Full name: Welder Silva Marçal
Playing name: Welder
Position: right wingback
Date of birth: 16/01/91
Clubs: Paulista FC, Corinthians
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