Among the most talented centre-backs in the World, Marquinhos is anything but an unknown quanity. Aakriti Mehrotra takes a closer look.
A 20 year old centre back was in contention for the Brazil squad for the coming World Cup. He missed the cut, but came incredibly close to it with the defender falling prey to Scolari’s pragmatic team selection. While still 19, he also became the fifth most expensive defender in history when he joined PSG, after having been looked at as the solution to Barcelona’s defensive problems. Meet Marquinhos.
Who is Marquinhos?
Marcos Aoás Corrêa, commonly known as ‘Marquinhos’, joined Corinthians at the age of 8, in 2002. He quickly moved along the youth ranks of the club over the next 10 years. He came into the limelight in 2010 in the ‘Future Champions’ tournament in Belo Horizonte, where he put on great performances, game after game, and was instrumental in victories over Barcelona and PSG. Even though his side finished seventh, the young Brazilian had captivated a lot of people and his rise began from here.
In 2011, national youth team coach Emerson Avila acted upon what he saw at the ‘Future Champions’ tournament and called up Marquinhos to captain the Brazil U17 team at the South American championships. Brazil emerged victorious from this tournament and secured their place at the World Cup in Mexico later that year, where the young defender would again captain the side. Along with his talent on the pitch, his leadership skills and his maturity on and off the pitch were greatly appreciated.
It was in 2012 that Marquinhos was called into the senior level by Corinthians. A successful Copa São Paulo youth tournament in January, resulted in the defender being given his opportunity with the first-team during the state championships. Marquinhos was given a place in the club’s squad for the Copa Libertadores and the Brazilian club went on to win the tournament for the first time in their history. Included in the senior team line-up at the age of 18, Marquinhos eventually made six first team appearances and provided 1 assist in the time. Marquinhos’ ascendancy continued, as he was called into the Brazil Under-20 squad as well as included in the preliminary Olympic squad.
In August 2012, Serie A side AS Roma approached the Brazilian club with interest in the classy centre-back. The Italian giants took him on a one-year contract for an initial fee of €1.5 million which would subsequently rise to €3 million after he made 8 first-team appearances of at least 45 minutes each.
When Roma signed the youngster, people didn’t expect him to have a very successful stint. Despite him being becoming a regular starter at Corinthians after being given the opportunity, it was felt that Marquinhos would not have that big an impact at Roma. He did. He teamed up with former Corinthians teammate and compatriot Leandro Castán in central defense and demoted sure-shot starter Nicolás Burdisso to the substitute’s bench. He went on to play 30 games for the Italian club.
His impressive performances at a European club got him even more attention and the likes of Barcelona, Manchester United and PSG became interested in the services of the player. But it was big-spending Les Parisiens, who eventually roped in the player after reportedly paying a sum in the region of £30.1million to Roma.
At PSG, the youngster has quickly made a place for himself. The recently concluded season was his first at the club and the Brazilian made 31 appearances in all competitions, scoring five goals and grabbing two assists in the process. He made his official debut for the French club against Olympiacos in the group stage of the 2013–14 UEFA Champions League and ended up scoring the last goal in PSG’s 4-1 win. Marquinhos’ league debut came on 22 September 2013 against rivals AS Monaco.
Marquinhos was named in the Talent Radar Team of the Season 2013/14 at Outside of the Boot’s inaugural Talent Radar Young Player Awards. The Brazilian was also named in our 100 Best Young Players to Watch in 2015 feature, coming in at #1 in our list of defenders while also coming in at #12 in our list of Top 20 Young Players of 2014. He ended the 2014-15 season by being named in the Talent Radar U-22 Ligue 1 Team of the Season.
The PSG defender reached as high as 2nd in our Talent Radar Player Rankings (Defenders), before dropping out of the Top 10.
Style of Play, Strengths and Weaknesses
Marquinhos’ has been called a versatile defender because even though he primarily plays as a centre-back, he has the ability to play from the right, should the team need such a change.
He has an incredible reading of the game and positions himself well through the course of the game. He is always at the right place at the right time. The fact that he is so accurate with his decisions means that he does not make too many defensive errors. In fact, during the 2013-14 season, he only made three defensive errors. But keeping in mind his young age, his concentration should improve further and the likelihood of these scarce mistakes might become even lesser. His interceptions are also very good and he impresses at the back with his calm demeanor. He has a good eye and he anticipates the opponent’s attack shrewdly and is usually able to get behind the ball and stop the attacks. He does not try to move forward recklessly and always knows that his primary duty is that of defending. But when he plays as a right-back, he adds a little more to his defensive game by regularly moving forward and trying to link up with attackers.
Incredibly composed on his feet, the striking part of his game is his maturity and modesty. The fact that he has captained the U-17 Brazil National team, played a season as a regular for Italian biggies AS Roma and is now representing European giants PSG means that the 20 year old has much to be proud of and can easily succumb to the hype and attention given to him by the media. However, Marquinhos has an endearing modesty about him. This runs complementary to the maturity shown by him on and off the pitch. He shouts commands alongside Thiago Silva and organizes the defense with effectiveness. His leadership skills also come in handy for the French side, who have a future leader in him if they do hold on to the Brazilian prodigy.
He has a good passing accuracy which means that he does not give away possession cheaply, especially because if he does that as a defender, it can really cost his side.
But the Corinthian youth product’s biggest strength is his young age. It is said that a defender peaks between the age of 24 and 30. Keeping that figure in mind, Marquinhos is yet to realize his full potential. With regular game time, the Brazilian is surely going to add another list of glowing achievements to his CV in these years to come. If he manages his earnest and endearing modesty in the time, it could be truly remarkable.
Marquinhos’ only noticeable weakness is his lack of aerial presence. Given his tall stature of 6 ft and the fact that he plays as a central defender, this is an area of his game which needs to be worked at. Another facet of his game which could probably be improved is his attacking variations. French league enthusiasts have seen that the young Brazilian can attack decently. But without giving up on his primary responsibilities, perhaps this is an area he can improve further upon and make his game even more threatening.
To conclude, the 20 year old has a very polished game for his age. He is physical and imposing but is also a ‘thinker’ which means that he is generally aware and tactically astute. His strengths clearly outnumber his weaknesses and with regular game-time he is soon going to become of the best in his trade. Marquinhos has made the most of every chance that has come his way in his career and of he continues the same way, the chances are going to get bigger and better.
“Like Thiago Silva the season before him, we had to wait a while before we saw Marquinhos in action at the Parc des Princes but he immediately showed what all the fuss was about. He arrived at the club after a stellar debut season in Italy with Roma and the eye watering fee that was paid for him made everyone in Paris curious at what this kid could do. His debut was in the Champions League (like Silva the year before against Kiev) and was thrown into the deep end by Laurent Blanc. Mamadou Sakho’s move to Liverpool and an injury to Alex forced the coach’s hand somewhat but it was a blessing in disguise. We saw the good and also the naivety of his play. He easily sold himself in the Greeks equaliser as Vladimir Weiss nut-megged him before teasing Silva to score. But, in what was a steady debut he rounded it off with a goal which was fantastic.
From then on in, he was jockeying with Alex for a starting berth alongside Silva. However an injury to the skipper against Monaco allowed the teenager to come in and step up, which he did. The resemblance to Silva is certainly uncanny. Both are agile, playing from out the back but as I alluded to, the young man needs to be a little more disciplined (in terms of positional awareness) which will come in time. He still has a lot to learn and although his first-team chances were limited due to the form of Alex, he has a huge forthcoming season where he and David Luiz will compete for that starting berth. Nevertheless, he will receive a grand education with his compatriots and the good work on his development will only get better at Camp des Loges.”
You can read all our Scout Reports here. What are your thoughts on Marquinhos, drop a comment below and let us know.