Tim Vickery Column: That Brazilian conveyor belt of talent

Wendell the latest revelation for Grêmio - Action Images
Brazil continue to craft talented players week in, week out with Grêmio producing two fine defenders recently but can they find another with important Copa Libertadores matches coming up and how will the latest conveyor belt of youngster cope with expectation.

One of the greatest things about covering Brazilian football is the opportunity to get an early glance at the future stars of the global game.  The production line of talent never stops working, there are always promising new players appearing.  Some will fall by the wayside, others will become household names all over the world, and it is fun to spot them early and follow their progress.

Let us take the example of Gremio.  Last year. For their Libertadores campaign, they repatriated left back Andre Santos from Arsenal .  The team were knocked out of the competition relatively early, he was not a spectacular success and moved on to Flamengo – leaving space for Alex Telles to make the position his own.

The youngster had a splendid season in the Brazilian Championship, being voted in most surveys as the best left back in the competition.  I was lucky enough to be in the stadium when he scored his only goal for Gremio, a cracking effort that won a vital game against Botafogo.  He will not be scoring any more for the club – not for a while, at least.  Alex Telles has already left Gremio, and is now playing for Galatasaray in the Champions League.

Back in Porto Alegre, though, he hardly seems to have been missed.  His sale has given the chance for Wendell to be promoted, and the 20 year old has already made a big impression – so big, in fact, that he too has already been sold.  In the middle of the year he joins Bayer Leverkeusen in Germany.  And so the conveyor belt keeps moving on.

Wendell’s young team-mate, support striker Luan, has made an even bigger impression.  Thrown in the deep end in the Copa Libertadores, where Gremio have been drawn in a very difficult group, Luan is making things look easy.  What is striking about him is not only his natural ability.  It is capacity to operate in a collective context, his vision of the game and the maturity of the decisions he is taking on the field.  Two months ago he was an unknown.  Now, he is surrounded by huge expectations.

All of this is quite extraordinary.  There is no other country in the world, not even Argentina, where promising players are revealed with such frequency.  Spend a month away from Brazil and you are already out of date; new players will have emerged in your absence.  Of course, by no means all of them will fulfil that early promise.  There is no other profession which contains such a huge step up; within a matter of weeks a youngster can go from being an anonymous youth team player to someone whose work is being assessed by thousands inside the stadium and millions following via the media.  This brings brutal changes in lifestyle, psychological pressures, new financial opportunities and a change in daily routine that can be thoroughly disorientating.  It is no surprise that lots of these players find these changes too difficult to assimilate.  There is a huge gap between promise and reality.

Luck, as always, plays a part – and not just in terms of injuries or first team opportunities.  There is also the crucial point of who the young player is surrounded by and what their motivation might be.

How does his family react to his progress?  There are plenty of such cases in Brazil where, when the youngster starts showing real promise, his entire family stop work and construct all their economic hopes on his football ability – a pressure which can only be described as inhumane.  They might want him to accept the first big money offer that comes in, regardless of whether it is in the long term interests of his career.

The same can apply with agents or investors looking for a short term profit, or clubs desperate for a sale in order to pay off a backlog of wages.

Thursday is a big day in the careers of the Gremio youngsters.  The team have won their first two games in the Copa Libertadores, but the next three are the trickiest.  On April 2nd they travel to Medellin for a difficult match away to Atletico Nacional of Colombia.  And before that come home and away clashes against Newells Old Boys of Argentina, an attractive side spearheaded by Maxi Rodriguez, with the passing ability of Ever Banega and the experience of David Trezeguet in reserve.  Winning the Libertadores is an obsession for Newells, who lost last year on penalties in the semi final to eventual champions Atletico Mineiro.  The 2014 model Newells will be all out to prove themselves against Brazilian opposition, next week in front of their own fans in Rosario, and this Thursday in Gremio’s new Arena.

Can Luan continue to shine in these difficult circumstances?  There is no guarantee that Wendell will be available for the first match.  He is suffering from a thigh strain.  It might be beyond even Brazil’s conveyor belt of talent to produce a new left back in time for Thursday.

Read more:

> Tim Vickery Column: One door opening for Clarence Seedorf closes another; we just wish it wasn’t so soon
> Tim Vickery Column: Strength in numbers needed by Brazilian clubs in Copa Libertadores
> Tim Vickery Column: Uruguay helped Brazilian football find its own path
 



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September 21, 2014
19:22Rafael misses former Manchester United team mates Ferdinand, Evra and Vidic
19:00Juan Jesus warns Internazionale team mates to look Palermo’s Paulo Dybala
18:30Barcelona head coach Luis Enrique fine with Neymar’s trip to Milan
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09:30Liverpool and Manchester United interested in Barcelona’s Dani Alves
09:00‘Sandro will be a great buy,’ insists Queens Park Rangers boss Harry Redknapp
08:15Fernandinho discusses Manchester City’s winless run
08:00Queens Park Rangers Harry Redknapp claims Sandro deal was cut-price
September 19, 2014
21:28Barcelona defender Douglas looking to learn from Cafu and Daniel Alves
17:56APOEL Nicosia defender Carlão named in UEFA.com's team of the week
16:50Chelsea forward Didier Drogba praises team-mate Diego Costa's start in England
16:12Barcelona defender Douglas notices defensive improvement since working under Head Coach Luis Enrique
15:54Champions League blip for Blues means better value
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13:02Technical Adviser Prashant Agarwal confirms Elano has signed for Indian Super League franchise Chennaiyin
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10:30‘It is normal that Chelsea are favourites for Champions League,’ insists Ramires
10:15Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers: I have no doubts about Coutinho
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September 18, 2014
14:29Dante and Rafinha upbeat after Munich's win against Manchester City
11:54Ronaldinho misses penalty in first game for Queretaro
11:49Carlos Dunga drops Thiago Silva
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September 17, 2014
22:25Zenit forward Hulk praises team-mate Oleg Shatov's role in his goal against Benfica
22:16Sampdoria forward Eder admits Palermo were interested in signing him this summer
22:13Sampdoria forward Eder praises Head Coach Siniša Mihajlović
22:08Roma defender Maicon refusing to get carried away despite emphatic CSKA Moscow victory
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15:15Vitinho of CSKA has been operated with success
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September 16, 2014
23:27Internacional midfielder Charles Aranguiz admits he is a "disorganised" player
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September 10, 2014
17:10Head Coach Dunga blames MetLife Stadium pitch for mixed Brazil performance in 1-0 win over Ecuador
September 09, 2014
18:35Alex Sandro eager for Brazil to move on from 7-1 defeat Germany
September 08, 2014
19:12Cruzeiro midfielder Everton Ribeiro praises Brazil Head Coach Dunga
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September 06, 2014
21:04Colombia Head Coach Jose Pekerman admits Juan Cuadrado red card was costly in friendly defeat to Brazil
August 29, 2014
22:27Dunga expects Brazil to recover
August 20, 2014
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August 12, 2014
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August 11, 2014
23:19Under-20 Head Coach Alexandre Gallo compares Brazil with Germany
August 09, 2014
22:34Alexandre Gallo: Germany an example, but Brazilians don't have the same patience
August 08, 2014
22:47Brazil Under-20 Head Coach Alexandre Gallo hopes more attention will be paid to youth system
August 07, 2014
13:27Dunga takes Brazil back to the future
July 23, 2014
17:02Napoli goalkeeper Rafael Cabral hoping for Seleção return under Dunga
July 19, 2014
23:19Gerard Houllier explains why Lionel Messi was awarded the Golden Ball
23:13Neymar believes Brazil can learn from Germany and Spain
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July 14, 2014
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July 13, 2014
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July 12, 2014
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23:44Thiago Silva left frustrated by Netherlands defeat
23:35Oscar has "horrible feeling" after Netherlands defeat
July 11, 2014
22:50Germany forward Thomas Muller looking forward to playing in the Maracana
July 09, 2014
23:55Neymar agent Wagner Ribeiro makes astonishing attack of Luiz Felipe Scolari
23:51Brazil Head Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari insists Germany defeat "not all bad"
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July 08, 2014
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23:55Germany forward Miroslav Klose "truly happy" to break Ronaldo's World Cup scoring record
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July 07, 2014
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22:22Germany Head Coach Joachim Low wary of "robust" Brazil
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June 16, 2014
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June 09, 2014
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23:12Italy forward Ciro Immobile “excited” with hat-trick against Fluminense
22:56Italy Head Coach Cesare Prandelli pleased with Fluminense victory
22:52Italy Head Coach Cesare Prandelli delighted with Brazilian support
June 07, 2014
23:32Italy line up confirmed for Fluminense friendly
May 19, 2014
22:13Portugal Manager Paulo Bento names his 23-man 2014 FIFA World Cup squad
May 18, 2014
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April 13, 2014
08:34Sambafoot Sunday: Brazilian Clubs' Libertadores Numbers Game
April 06, 2014
09:20Sambafoot Sunday: Atlético Mineiro's Anelka Interest Should be the Norm
February 14, 2014
12:23Shakhtar Donetsk: President decided to support Maicon’s family
February 09, 2014
09:25Sambafoot Sunday: Where’s Wallyson? Botafogo find their new hero post-Seedorf
January 26, 2014
10:09Sambafoot Sunday: Cruciate curse affects Seleção hopes of three midfielders
December 01, 2013
13:36Sambafoot Sunday: Could Éverton Ribeiro Crack Europe?
November 25, 2013
11:39Brasileirão Week 36 round up: Vasco shock champions to stay in contention while defeat leaves Ponte Preta on the brink
November 24, 2013
10:17Sambafoot Sunday: Palmeiras Promoted with Chapecoense in Tow
November 17, 2013
12:00Palmeiras secure Brasileirão Série B title with 3-0 win against Boa Esporte
November 12, 2013
08:42Relegation threatened Fluminense sack head coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo
November 10, 2013
12:59Sambafoot Sunday: Atlético Paranaense's hurricane season
November 09, 2013
10:05Drummer angers Flamengo fans
November 04, 2013
13:04Brasileirão week 32 round-up: Big win for Vasco as in-form Goiás maintain top four push
November 03, 2013
17:31Sambafoot Sunday: Surprise Packages in the 2013 Brasileirão
October 28, 2013
11:31Brasileirão Week 31 round up: Vital win for Ponte Preta while Goiás maintain top four push
October 21, 2013
13:21Olympique Marseille without defender Lucas Mendes for Napoli fixture
12:12Injury rules Bayern Munich defender Dante out of Viktoria Plzeň tie
October 20, 2013
23:50São Paulo president Juvenal Juvêncio admits interest in Lucas Moura loan return
October 18, 2013
11:47Diego Maradona dispute’s Pelé’s FIFA recognition
09:04Del Bosque: Costa approach no insult to current strikers
October 17, 2013
21:43Hard work is paying off insists Bayern Munich defender Rafinha
13:17Rodrigo Lasmar: Ronaldinho on track to be fit for the Club World Cup
October 16, 2013
19:53Report: Tottenham Hotspur set to offer Paulinho extended deal
09:12Report: São Paulo could terminate Lúcio’s contract if injury concerns prevail
October 13, 2013
18:32Brasileirão: Grêmio slip up as Vitoria and Santos grab victories
14:49Vanderlei Luxemburgo: ‘Simulation part of football’
October 09, 2013
20:37Mineiro learn Club World Cup fate
October 06, 2013
22:39Oswaldo de Oliveira in hospital after Botafogo defeat
11:55Sambafoot Sunday: Cruzeiro cruising at the top of the Brasileirão
October 04, 2013
23:52Internacional manager Dunga sacked
September 14, 2013
14:29Guerrero: Corinthians can still be champions
September 11, 2013
20:49Roberto Carlos: Anzhi could collapse
14:57Exeter City play down Brazil fears
September 07, 2013
14:12Atlético Madrid's Filipe Luis: Barca-Madrid dominance an injustice
September 06, 2013
19:04Santos announce tour of South East Asia
18:42São Paulo slump to defeat as Rogerio Ceni misses penalty
September 05, 2013
19:17Cruzeiro go four points clear after defeating Bahia
18:43Romário and Maradona fight against CONMEBOL corruption
September 03, 2013
21:29Marcelo Mattos says Botafogo will overcome difficulties
20:54Réver believes Atlético Mineiro can challenge for Brazilian title
September 02, 2013
23:21São Paulo to honour Brazil legend Leonidas da Silva
September 20, 2014
23:17Ramires hopes for extended stay at Chelsea
23:11Brazil international Rafael hails influence of senior players at Manchester United
23:03Manchester United defender Rafael hopes for extended stay
22:58New Internacional forward Nilmar pleased to get back to playing at a "higher standard"
22:54Internacional forward Nilmar insists he is "not a saviour"
September 19, 2014
21:28Barcelona defender Douglas looking to learn from Cafu and Daniel Alves
17:56APOEL Nicosia defender Carlão named in UEFA.com's team of the week
16:50Chelsea forward Didier Drogba praises team-mate Diego Costa's start in England
16:12Barcelona defender Douglas notices defensive improvement since working under Head Coach Luis Enrique
15:47Brasileirão round 22 summary: Cruzeiro back to winning ways as São Paulo stumble at Coritiba
13:02Technical Adviser Prashant Agarwal confirms Elano has signed for Indian Super League franchise Chennaiyin
September 17, 2014
22:25Zenit forward Hulk praises team-mate Oleg Shatov's role in his goal against Benfica
22:16Sampdoria forward Eder admits Palermo were interested in signing him this summer
22:13Sampdoria forward Eder praises Head Coach Siniša Mihajlović
22:08Roma defender Maicon refusing to get carried away despite emphatic CSKA Moscow victory
September 16, 2014
23:27Internacional midfielder Charles Aranguiz admits he is a "disorganised" player
23:23Internacional legend Elías Figueroa hails fellow Chilean Charles Aranguiz
23:18Flamengo forward Eduardo admits he feels "like a foreigner" in Brazil
23:11Luiz Gustavo insists he is happy at VfL Wolfsburg
23:06Athletic Bilbao Head Coach Ernesto Valverde hails Shakhtar Donetsk midfielders Alex Teixeira and Douglas Costa
September 15, 2014
18:38Milan give injury update on defender Alex
18:27Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho would be open to signing new deal
18:21Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho notes English sides were interested in Benfica star Talisca
18:11Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu expects Alex to quickly become key at Milan
September 14, 2014
09:59Athletic Bilbao Head Coach Ernesto Valverde hails Barcelona forward Neymar
09:54Ronaldinho motivated to succeed with Queretaro
09:50Ronaldinho insists he won't change his lifestyle at Queretaro
09:45Fluminense forward Fred insists World Cup disappointment is "in the past"
09:39Fluminense forward Fred insists jeering motivates him
September 13, 2014
22:33Flamengo forward Eduardo notes Brazilian football is growing in Croatia and Ukraine
22:26Flamengo forward Eduardo admits he thought the Brasileirão "would be easy"
22:20Real Madrid defender Pepe bemoans set-piece deficiencies
22:12Palermo loanee Emerson hails Alex Sandro and notes Robinho and Felipe Anderson persuaded him to make Serie A switch
22:10Palermo loanee Emerson eager to learn in Serie A
September 12, 2014
18:34Chelsea owned midfielder Lucas Piazon admits he could be open to permanent Eintracht Frankfurt switch
17:35Pele confident Lionel Messi can still win the World Cup
17:01Genoa not expecting FIFA sanctions over Anselmo transfer
16:14Ronaldinho hopes to keep winning at Queretaro
16:02Ronaldinho admits Rafa Marquez influenced his decision to join Queretaro
September 10, 2014
17:04Agent admits Maicon's Brazil career is likely to be over
16:59Sao Paulo loanee Alexandre Pato confirms he returned to Brazil to overcome injury problems
16:53Alexandre Pato blames medics for Milan demise
16:46Agent confirms Brazil are interesting in capping Napoli midfielder Jorginho
September 09, 2014
18:26Danilo praises new Porto Head Coach Julen Lopetegui
18:23Alex Sandro pleased with Porto's start to the season
17:44Maxwell confident Paris Saint-Germain can push Barcelona in the Champions League
16:00Paris Saint-Germain defender Maxwell hails time at Barcelona
September 08, 2014
18:23Miranda happy his stayed at Atletico Madrid
17:05Miranda: Atletico Madrid "has to fight for trophies"
16:44Atletico Madrid defender Miranda is pleased with the club's summer signings
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