Friday, 28 July 2017

Richarlison scouting report: Meet the two-footed whippet who is joining Watford from Fluminense

He first started playing in a soccer school run by a man known as Big Uncle Butterfly. If that doesn't endear Fluminense starlet Richarlison to you, then you've a heart of stone.

As it goes, there's plenty more to love. The 20-year-old has been one of the most compelling forwards to watch in Brazil over the last few months, capable of roasting his man on either side and chipping in with a good number of goals.

No wonder, then, that he has been linked with a whole host of European clubs, from Ajax and Inter to Chelsea and Manchester United.

UPDATE: he's heading to Watford. Told you there was a buzz about him.

Find out what all the fuss is about in my latest scouting report for Unibet. 

Monday, 24 July 2017

Tchê Tchê scouting report: Why Palmeiras' Mr Versatile would be a good signing for European sides this summer

Another week, another scouting report from Brazil. At this rate, I'll be running out of young players to get excited about in... oh, three or four years.

Next up on the conveyer belt is Tchê Tchê, probably one of the most versatile footballers to have played in Brazil in the last decade. Is he a right-back? Is he a central midfielder? Is he a winger? No, he's all those things and probably a few more besides.

At 24, he's no boy genius. But having come through relatively late – he really caught the eye for Fernando Diniz's fine Audax side in the 2016 Paulistão – there is still a freshness about him that makes him worthy of a closer look.

I do just that in my latest for Unibet.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Neymar to PSG: Why mooted €222million move would be a gamble – not for club but for player

If reports in Brazil are to be believed, Neymar has told Paris Saint-Germain that he is willing to join them in a blockbuster €222million deal this summer.

That would smash the world record for the biggest transfer fee ever and would likely ignite the summer transfer window, prompting a domino effect that could have knock-on effects for all manner of other teams.

The stakes are high. PSG would be buying one of the world's best players, who is entering his prime and has the global star power to take them to the next level. But what about Neymar? There's good reason to doubt whether this would be the ideal move for him, given both short-term and long-term considerations.

I explain why it would be a gamble for the forward in my latest for Mirror Football. 

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Who is Douglas Luiz? Manchester City's new signing profiled after sealing move from Vasco da Gama

“He is the real thing. He has potential that you don’t see in many players. He’s a classic No.8 and I’m sure there will soon be a spot for him in the Seleção.”

That endorsement, from Vasco da Gama coach Milton Mendes, will doubtless be music to the ears of Manchester City fans.

They might get to see new signing Douglas Luiz in a sky-blue jersey for a while, with a loan to Spain likely, but the teenager is viewed as a major talent in Brazil thanks in large part to his displays under Mendes this year.

Read my profile of the midfielder on the Yahoo Sport website.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Thiago Maia scouting report: How the former Santos starlet went from sex motels to Marcelo Bielsa's Lille

One of the more intriguing sides to watch in the coming season will be Lille, now under the stewardship of Marcelo 'El Loco' Bielsa, one of the game's true visionaries.

Les Dogues started their summer transfer drive by adding Luiz Araújo and Thiago Mendes from São Paulo, and followed it up last week with the capture of Thiago Maia.

The midfielder, who came through the ranks at Santos and was part of Brazil's successful 2016 Olympic squad, had long been tipped for the top and will now hope to progress to the next level under Bielsa's watch. It's all a far cry from his days living in a sex motel when he first moved away from home.

Read more about Thiago Maia in my latest Unibet scouting report.

Friday, 7 July 2017

The story of Pelé's first Brazil goal, 60 years on

"Let's give this little bunny rabbit a go!"

So it was (at least according to the player himself) that Sylvio Pirillo, the Brazil coach back in 1957, decided to give a debut to a 16-year-old bundle of fluff with wide eyes and thunder thighs. He went by the name of Pelé. Perhaps you have heard of him.

It was both the start of a beautiful story and the culmination of a series of unlikely events. For while the striker had made his senior debut for Santos some ten months earlier, it was in another team's jersey that he had caught Pirillo's eye.

Here's the story of that day, 60 years on, for The Independent.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Jean scouting report: meet the elastic young Bahia goalkeeper who plays like David De Gea

He watches videos of Manuel Neuer and Gianluigi Donnarumma, but his game most resembles that of David De Gea. That is quite the endorsement, of course, but Bahia youngster Jean is quite a goalkeeper.

"He gets more mature every day," his former coach has said. "His quality is indisputable. Every time he goes between the posts, he gives everything he has, body and soul."

That commitment was in evidence at the weekend, when Jean's heroics earned his side a point in the Salvador derby against Vitória. It was a performance to make scouts take notice.

Read my profile of the young stopper on the Unibet blog.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

How Jô got his groove back: once a Premier League flop, the striker is older, wiser and targeting a Brazil recall

"Since he arrived, he has been a positive influence in the day-to-day life of the squad. He supports the younger players and is a really hard worker. He's getting the reward for that."

That description does not readily tally with the commonly held view of Jô, the striker whose talent was more than matched by his penchant for partying during his time in the Premier League with Manchester City and Everton.

Now, though, at the age of 30, Jô is older, wiser and having a fantastic season for Série A pace-setters Corinthians. He even has one eye on a Brazil recall for next summer's World Cup in Brazil.

Read my piece on the, erm, reJôvenation (sorry) on the ESPN website.