Much like the entire category, the Talent Radar Team of the Season feature has been limited to Europe’s big leagues, with players being monitored in our Team of the Week and Player Rankings feature. We’ve decided to broaden our horizons in the recent past. With that in mind, Tom Robinson returns to give us our Brasileirao Young Players team of the season 2016.
You can read this for all details on Talent Radar, who is eligible under it and what else we publish within this feature.
Caique // Vitoria // 19 // Goalkeeper: Always a difficult position to fill given the lack of young goalkeepers getting regular playing time, there weren’t too many candidates to choose from for this spot. Nevertheless, Vitoria’s tall, agile Caique gets the nod for some noteworthy performances for his hometown club. In his eight appearances, he helped the Rubro-negro to a win and four draws, points that ultimately proved vital in narrowly avoiding relegation. Dubbed by some as the new Dida – who also began his career at Vitoria – Caique has been called up to the U20s for the Sudamericano and Benfica are rumoured to be interested.
Honourable mentions: Ulison (Atletico Mineiro), Lucas Franca (Cruzeiro)
Jorge // Flamengo // 20 // Left Back: Already one of the best full backs in the league despite his tender age and attracting a lot of attention from abroad, Jorge was an ever present for Flamengo, featuring 32 times in their title challenge. He impressed with his consistency, tackling and well-rounded game, while his interceptions stats were one of the best in the Brasileirão. On top of that, he chipped in with two goals and one assist; although the latter is an area he must look to improve if he is to take his game to the next level. A maiden Libertadores campaign and another tilt at the title await.
Honourable mentions: Zeca (Santos) Douglas Santos (Atletico Mineiro)
William // Internacional // 21 // Right Back: Despite being part of Internacional’s first ever relegation, full back William was one of the league’s best performers. Occasionally used on the wing due to his attacking prowess, he registered four assists and was part of a defence that conceded only 41 goals. A training ground scrap with former Manchester United midfielder Anderson aside, he was one of only a few Inter players who emerged with any credit from their devastating season and also made three appearances for Brazil as they won Olympic Gold. Along with fellow prospects Rodrigo Dourado and Valdivia, there will be plenty of clubs looking to take advantage of Inter’s dire state and sign him up at a cut-price fee.
Honourable mentions: Gimenez (Chapecoense), Dodo (Coritiba)
Yerry Mina // Palmeiras // 22 // Centre Back: The tall, lanky Colombian signed from Santa Fe and was a huge success as Palmeiras won their first league title since 1994. Voted the best defender in the Brasileirão, he formed a brilliant partnership alongside Vitor Hugo to create the most watertight backline in the division, conceding just 32 goals all season. He also proved for club and country that he was a potent goal threat, with four strikes in thirteen league appearances. Palmeiras will be desperate to hold onto him ahead of their Libertadores campaign.
Honourable mentions: Emerson Santos (Botafogo)
Juninho // Coritiba // 21 // Centre back: Coritiba once again beat the drop and, although they weren’t great going forward, defensively they had the eighth best record in the league. Juninho was key as, in a Sunderland-like fashion, they managed to grind out the results that ultimately kept them up. An ever-present in defence with 36 appearances, only goalkeeper Wilson played more than him, Juninho put in some impressive performances which also caught the attention of Fiorentina in the summer. Palmeiras are the latest side to be linked to the talented defender and the champions might move for him if the aforementioned Mina or Vitor Hugo moves to Europe.
Honourable mentions: Gabriel (Atletico Mineiro)
Thiago Maia // Santos // 19 // Centre Midfield: As part of double pivot, Thiago Maia gets the nod for his role in Santos’ surprise second place finish. A defensive midfielder who is not only robust and strong in the tackle but also technically gifted, Maia linked well with Renato as Santos won the State Championship and then challenged for the league title. His short passing game was very tidy, averaging 86.7% pass completion rate over the season, although he doesn’t contribute much in the final third. The youngest member of Brazil’s Olympic-winning squad.
Honourable mentions: Douglas (Fluminense), Rodrigo Dourado (Internacional)
Hernani // Atletico Paranaense // 22 // Centre Midfield: One player who is on his way to Zenit however is Hernani, who completes the base of the midfield alongside Maia. A cornerstone of his team’s sixth place finish, the no-nonsense Hernani also chipped in with six goals including some impressive strikes from distance. Athletic and leggy, with good aerial ability he impressed alongside fellow 22-year-old Otavio and will go some way towards filling the sizeable hole left by Axel Witsel.
Honourable mentions: Jailson, Walace (both Gremio)
Gustavo Scarpa // Fluminense // 22 // Attacking Midfield: One of the standouts of the season, the versatile Scarpa topped the assist charts with ten and also notched up eight goals. Although often used on the right flank for Fluminense, his powerful left foot sees him take up a position on the opposite flank for our OOTB dream team. Lean with great pace and trickery, Chutavinho has proven himself a dead ball expert and no player made more key passes than him, lighting up what was a pretty forgettable season for Flu.
Honourable mentions: Erik (Palmeiras)
Giorgian de Arrascaeta // Cruzeiro // 22 // Attacking midfield: It wasn’t a great season for Cruzeiro but classy Uruguayan playmaker de Arrascaeta managed to be one of the few bright spots with nine goals and nine assists. Despite playing as a number ten, he ended up as his team’s top scorer and recaptured the form that he had previously shown a couple of seasons ago for Defensor Sporting. Technically excellent, with great vision and creativity, the diminutive midfielder was a joy to watch at times and will be fundamental if Cruzeiro are to get back to winning ways next season.
Honourable mentions: Raphael Veiga (Coritiba)
Vitor Bueno // Santos // 22 // Attacking Midfield: Voted the revelation of the season, Vitor Bueno stepped in to fill the goal-scoring boots of Gabriel after he departed in the summer, finishing the season with 10 goals in 33 appearances. A good dribbler with incisive passing, he also provided three assists and helped take the creative burden off Lucas Lima, as well as displaying his versatility by playing a number of positions across the advanced midfield and forward lines. With his intelligence, clever movement and eye for goal, it won’t be long before European clubs come sniffing.
Honourable mentions: David Neres (Sao Paulo), Lucas Fernandes (Atletico Paranaense), Roger Guedes (Palmeiras)
Gabriel Jesus // Palmeiras // 19 // Striker: First name on the team sheet and it’s not hard to see why after pretty much a perfect year for the teenage wonderkid. A league title was added to last year’s Copa, while internationally he won gold at the Olympics and established himself in Tite’s new-look Seleção with 5 goals in 6 games, cementing his progression from exciting prospect to full-blown superstar-in-waiting. His switch to a central striking role was effortless as he helped himself to twelve goals and five assists in the league, as well as four in four in the Libertadores. It’s safe to say he’s managed to leave a big mark before his big money move to Manchester City and it will be fascinating to see how he takes to English football.
Honourable mentions: Felipe Vizeu (Flamengo), Richarlison (Fluminense), Sassa & Neilton (both Botafogo)
See all our league-wise Talent Radar Season XIs