BEST YOUNG BRAZIL PLAYERS

SOME OF BRAZIL'S EMERGING PROSPECTS

Brazil are the most prolific producers of high-level talent in history. From Ronaldo to Neymar, and countless before and after, the country and its sprawling cities have been an unrivalled football hotbed. Here are reports on some of their up-and-coming players. Each cover their backgrounds, styles, strengths and weaknesses.

You can find more in-depth player reports in the Scouted Football Handbook, our quarterly magazine in which we profile 25 of the world’s best up-and-coming talents, with additional original features and exclusive interviews included.

LAST UPDATED: JANUARY 7, 2022

Marcos Antônio

Shakhtar Donetsk's Marcos Antonio

DETAILS

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

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Marcos Antônio was one of the best players at the 2017 Under-17 World Cup. So much so, that we at Scouted Football awarded him with our Bronze Ball as the third-best player at the tournament.

After that, he has gone from strength to strength, leaving Athletico Paranaense in his native Brazil. First he went to Estoril in Portugal’s second division, where he spent just six months before he was swiftly snapped up by Shakhtar Donetsk. Since moving to Ukraine, Antônio has yet to really established himself as an undisputed starter week-on-week. But has has gained imortant experience in the Champions League.

STYLE OF PLAY

Marcos Antônio is a wonderfully well-rounded player. While his small stature presents some problems, almost every other aspect of his game is incredibly well-developed, making him a versatile midfield threat in a variety of roles.

From deep, he builds up play fantastically from deep, capable of tucking in between the centre-backs to kick-start attacks (although an unwillingness to play long limits his effectiveness there).

His ability to spark counter-attacks with sharp movement and quick, progressive passing out of opposition pressure enables Shakhtar to counter rapidly and create overloads further up the field. In more attacking areas, Antônio has blossomed since arriving at Shakhtar. His ball-carrying is very secure, allowing him to lift his vision to pick passes forward and unlock defensive structures.

Even defensively, Shakhtar have been able to essentially hide him as a deep liability by ensuring Antônio is pushed into positions to press the ball-carrier, rather than being isolated against an attacker in the final third.

Antony

AFC Ajax's Antony

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STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

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Antony agreed to sign for AFC Ajax in February 2020 after impressing for boyhood side São Paulo. Player of the tournament in the 2018 edition of Copiñha a São Paulo-based youth competition between 120 local clubs in which he contributed to ten goals en route to glory, he is a flighty, explosive right-sided winger. Antony has a penchant for a looping cross towards the back post after cutting back onto his left foot.

Growing up in the working-class city of Osasco in São Paulo’s metropolitan region, Antony’s humble roots are reflected in his style of play. He is an individual whose work-rate is off the charts. Dribbling is one of Antony’s standout traits too.

STYLE OF PLAY

Growing up in the working-class city of Osasco in São Paulo’s metropolitan region, Antony’s humble roots are reflected in his style of play. He is an individual whose work-rate is off the charts, even if the care and attention of his defensive work is far from refined.

Dribbling is one of Antony’s standout traits, capable of carrying the ball long distances, which would make him an asset certainly in teams who thrive in attacking transitions. His shooting is to a good standard, often hitting the target, even from range, although his shot locations can be questionable at times.

He excels in one-v-one situations when going inside onto his favoured foot, but can be restricted by being shown down the line. However, with his sharp drops of the shoulder, low centre of gravity and excellent acceleration, it is difficult to stop him wherever he intends to go.

His output since signing for Ajax has taken plenty by surprise, with the team sitting atop the Eredivisie unlike the perception that they may have found themselves licking their wounds over the loss of Hakim Ziyech.

Brenner

FC Cincinnati's Brenner

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STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

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FC Cincinnati brought Brenner to the United States to spearhead the league’s worst attack in the 2020 season and outlaid a club record $14 million fee in the process. The move has had mixed results, with the Brazilian recording eight goals in his first MLS season.

STYLE OF PLAY

Brenner is a really good penalty box striker. He gets into fabulous shot locations and averaged almost 0.2 xG per shot in the 2020/21 Brazilian Serie A.

He is comfortable in a range of attacking scenarios; playing off the shoulder, contesting aerially, shooting from outside the box, or timing runs into the penalty area to score. He only really struggles when trying to create his own shots as a dribbler.

Dribbling and chance creation are his two key drawbacks at this stage of his career. Instead of risking possession attempting to progress the play or create an opening, Brenner feels more comfortable playing the ball backwards or sideways in order to move into scoring positions himself.

While this undoubtedly makes him an efficient player, it also means he is slightly predictable at best, and slows down and kills attacking opportunities at worst. He will need to be more willing to take risks to maximise his effectiveness in Cincinnati’s attack, whose success will be primarily dedicated to counter-attacking.

Dodô

Shakhtar Donetsk's Marcos Antonio

DETAILS

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

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Dodô is yet another Brazilian to come to Europe through the successful Shakhtar Donetsk pipeline. The right-back, whose game resembles that of a young Stephan Lichtsteiner, has become a key feature of Luis Castro’s Shakhtar that did the double over Real Madrid in the Champions League in 2020/21, despite a disappointing league campaign in which they ceded the league title to Dynamo Kyiv.

STYLE OF PLAY

Dodô is a dominant physical presence that excels in duels defensively, while in attack, he uses his speed to exploit open spaces down the right flank to stretch the opposition. He is a high-octane player that thrives when playing in straight lines, and can be devastating when given space to attack.

But the Brazilian can struggle with more technical aspects of the game both from an attacking and defensive standpoint. In attack, he lacks the on-ball quality to be a difference maker as a ball carrier or distributor.

Defensively, he tends to struggle defending out wide when isolated by wingers that can dribble. He closes off his body too much and can be easily wrong-footed in these situations, allowing the opposition player to attack the penalty box.

Vinícius Júnior is probably the best under-23 player in Brazilian football right now, having made an exciting leap into a high-level attacker this season, and Gabriel Martinelli is perhaps the most exciting U-23 Brazilian prospect in the top-five leagues. Of course, there’s a raft of high-level talent coming out of Brazil’s domestic leagues and cups as well.

The big city clubs – Flamengo, São Paulo, Santos, Palmeiras, Fluminense, Vasco da Gama – always produce players, largely because of their direct access to one of football’s great talent hotbeds. Red Bull Bragantino, part of the energy drink network, are a club to watch as well when it comes to youth development.