With Manchester United close to splashing up to €100million on Brazilian youngster Antony, having already spent big on two other South Americans Lisandro Martinez and Casemiro, both from Champions League teams, a question has to be asked, is it time that United started looking at buying direct from the source?
United have been down this route before, buying young players directly from their Brazilian clubs, most notably with the Da Silva twins, however for every Rafael Da Silva there is a Rodrigo Possebon.
Possebon was signed by Sir Alex Ferguson for £3million back in 2008 and despite being highly recommended by United’s Brazilian scout John Calvert-Toulmin at the time, he only went on to make eight appearances for the first team before being sent out on loan and eventually sold.
This seems to be the biggest negative for buying young players directly from South America, they may not be able to make the step up to the Premiership. However this can surely be countered by the fact that often these deals cost far less both in transfer fees as well as wages then buying a ‘ready made’ player.
Now, this is not always the case, Gabriel Jesus cost Man City a reported £27million back in 2017, which is a large fee for the then 19 year old, however he more than repaid that fee with his goals, and the fact that City got their money back and more when they sold him to Arsenal.
Real Madrid are another team that have been successful with their exploits in scouting Brazil. Casemiro was brought from Sao Paulo for a relatively low fee, Vinicius Junior was brought from Flamengo directly albeit for a hefty fee (second only to Neymar for a Brazilian based footballer), Rodrygo another youngster purchased although again for a large fee.
Marcelo is another player poached by Real Madrid direct from Brazil, this time for a low fee, who has gone on to have a very successful career with the club. This again highlights that going down this route of cutting out the ‘middleman’ and buying young players directly from Brazil can work for the ‘bigger’ teams.
It’s clear that buying young players direct from Brazil is a risk however, especially if the fee is high, however the same can be said of any transfer. For example, Alexis Sanchez was brought by United and despite being ‘Premiership ready’ struggled to live up to expectations. The same could be said for many of United’s recent transfers.
The one factor to take into consideration with these types of deals is the time and patience that may be needed in order to bed these players in. In the case of Casemiro at Real Madrid it took a few seasons before the Spanish team deemed him to be ready for first team action.
United should have no issues with giving young players game time, with the impressive record of having an academy graduate in every match day squad since 1937. The Red Devils are well known for giving youth a chance.
With a large scouting network spreading all across the globe, it does seem strange that Old Trafford hasn’t welcomed more South American youth prospects.
If recent reports are to be believed, this could be set to change, with 19 year old Gabriel Veron from Palmeiras being targeted by the Red Devils, an exciting midfield prospect who is tipped by many to be the next Brazilian superstar.