Best young Brazil players
Brief scouting reports on some of our favourite emerging Brazilian talents
Brazil are the most prolific producers of high-level talent in history; the country and its sprawling cities have been an unrivalled football hotbed. Here are reports on some of their emerging generation. Each cover their backgrounds, styles, strengths and weaknesses.
More profiles can be found in the goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders, wingers and strikers sections. Below, you’ll find profiles covering backgrounds, styles, strengths and weaknesses, while providing links to where you can find out more about them.
For full in-depth analysis of some of the best young players from all over the planet, check out our profiles page. We have countlesss profiles on players there, focussing on a range of talents from across the world. There are also exclusive interviews too, and plenty more.
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.
After impressing, despite never really establishing himself as a nailed on starter at Shakhthar, Antônio made the move to Serie A to join Lazio in the summer of 2022.
Marcos Antônio’s 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 enabled 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 were 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.
Marcos Antônio’s quality as a ball progressor is the fundamental characteristic of his game. He is a very good short, progressive passer, and an excellent ball carrier from deep spaces, as well as being very press resistant.
Marcos Antônio’s shortcomings are primarily on the defensive end. He is undersized and does not defend well in a block, relying on his manager to get creative in how to use him out of possession to hide his weaknesses.
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.
Brenner finally had his big breakout in his second season in MLS though. Between matchdays 18 and 36, Brenner scored 14 goals, including two hat-tricks and two braces, to finally announce himself in the league as Cincinnatti push for their first-ever play-off appearance.
Brenner's 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.
Brenner is an efficient striker that has great penalty box instincts and gets into very strong positions to score rather than relying on half-chances.
Brenner lacks the ability to force play, either as a creator or dribbler, meaning his attacking style can be slightly one-dimensional if he doesn’t have a complimentary supporting cast around him.
From the golden beaches of João Pessoa to the urban streets of Berlin, Matheus Cunha has travelled well for such a young player.
After coming through the academy of Coritiba, Cunha made the relatively strange step of moving to FC Sion in Switzerland as a teenager – but it proved to be a great decision. He only needed a single season to catch the attention of some of Europe’s bigger clubs, and he duly moved to RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga the following year.
An in-and-out year there preceded a step down to Hertha BSC, where he found his feet as the star man in an average side. Again, it took only 18 months for him to grab the attention of others. This time, it was Atlético Madrid, whom he joined for €26 million.
Matheus Cunha's style of play
Capable of playing across the front line, Cunha is an excellent ball-carrier and equally slick mover – often nutmegging opponents or nipping between two defenders to create space.
The Brazil international is shot heavy and boasts impressive ball striking ability, particularly from range where his power beats goalkeepers. He is a useful counter-attacking threat and can play through the middle despite featuring mostly as a left-sided player during his time in Berlin.
The 21-year-old is no stranger to a yellow card. He can be quite petulant and gets frustrated easily, which leads to him making unnecessary fouls.
His passing needs improvement, but his intent alone unsettles defences and vacates space for others to exploit. Cunha can frustrate team-mates by not releasing the ball quickly enough in promising areas, with his soloistic tendencies preferring to go for goal.
Matheus Cunha is a direct and effective dribbler that always wants to receive possession as much as possible. He has developed into a really good penalty box finisher as well.
Matheus Cunha’s main issue in possession is occasionally being a little selfish and trying to do too much as a ball carrier and dribbler.
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.