Sat, Jul 11, 2009 - Page 18 News List

FEATURE : Time to bone up on Spanish, Portuguese


It’s time again to bone up on Spanish and Portuguese, particularly if you’re a fan of the English Premier League or any of the other big — and not so big — leagues across Europe.

Players are coming your way soon from leagues in Brazil, Argentina and Mexico. Nowhere is more flush with talent than Brazil, where the national soccer confederation had 1,176 Brazilian players signed to contracts with clubs across the globe last year.

Remember this name — Keirrison de Souza Carneiro, or simply Keirrison.

The 20-year-old Brazilian striker is the latest one-name wonder.

He scored 12 goals in his first 14 games with Brazilian club Palmeiras, which prompted him to leave the club last month and start talks with Champions League winners Barcelona.


Having lost Keirrison, Palmeiras may also lose midfielder Diego Souza, who has been the team’s top playmaker since Chile’s Jorge Valdivia left the club last year.

He’s only 17, but Neymar — full name Neymar da Silva Santos Jr — is another Brazilian being sought by European clubs.

He’s already billed as the next Robinho. Neymar’s contract with Santos goes until 2014 and it has a US$40 million buyout clause, but it has not kept clubs from coming after his skills. Neymar made his professional debut with Santos earlier this year and has been a regular starter since then.

Corinthians, who recently won the traditional Sao Paulo state championship and the Brazilian Cup, could have several players leave, including midfielder Elias, defender Chicao, goalkeeper Felipe and left back Andre Santos.

Andre Santos was one of the few players from Brazilian clubs who played for Brazil in last month’s Confederations Cup in South Africa. Most were from European clubs.

He was called up for the first time to Brazil’s national team in May and needed only one match as a starter to secure his spot in coach Dunga’s lineup, including the final against the US.

He’s reportedly being sought by teams such as Italy’s Inter and AS Roma.

Midfielder Ramires of Cruzeiro is another member of the Brazilian team that won the Confederations Cup. The 22-year-old has reached a deal to play for Portugal’s Benfica and will leave after Cruzeiro play the second leg of the final of the Copa Libertadores on Wednesday against Argentina’s Estudiantes.

Cruzeiro may also lose striker Kleber, a former Dynamo Kiev player, who is touted to move to England’s Liverpool.


There’s not as much young talent as usual coming out of Argentina, but there are a few players to watch.

Franco Zuculini, only 18, has already moved from Racing Club to German club Hoffenheim on a transfer reported to be US$6.7 million.

Racing will reportedly receive 15 percent of any future transfer. He has played 39 games since his debut last year and has scored one goal.

Zuculini is called “Big Head” by fans because of his fearless play using his head — and feet.

Several Spanish and Italian teams are looking at 21-year-old defender Nicolas Otamendi, who plays for champions Velez.

Spain’s Villarreal and Sevilla are reported to be interested, as are AC Milan and Inter.

Forward Javier Pastore of Huracan is attracting attention, particularly from Italian club Palermo.

Pastore, 20, models himself after Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who plays for Inter. Ibrahimovic has been linked with a move to Barcelona.

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