Wed, Jul 25, 2012 - Page 18 News List

LONDON 2012 OLYMPICS: Brazil’s Olympic soccer stars eye European deals

AP, LONDON

Brazil’s Oscar, front, is tackled by Britain’s Tom Cleverley in their friendly match at the Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough, England, on Friday.

Photo: EPA

The Olympic soccer tournament has not started yet, but news of top European clubs trying to reach deals with young Brazilian players is already leaking out of London.

Promising playmaker Oscar is close to announcing a deal with Chelsea. Star forward Lucas is about to make a move to Manchester United. There is also talk about transfers for striker Leandro Damiao and playmaker Paulo Henrique Ganso.

The Olympic tournament is played mostly with under-23 squads, giving young players a great opportunity to display their talent on a big stage and improve their chances of a multimillion-dollar deal with a top club, but this time Brazil are bringing some of their top players to the tournament, many who have already shown their potential and are already playing in top clubs, and the few who are still playing in Brazil apparently seem set on be making their move.

Oscar, who will be wearing the No. 10 jersey when Brazil begins their quest for their first Olympic gold medal in soccer, is expected to seal a transfer to European champions Chelsea in the next few days.

The player admitted recently that he met with Chelsea doctors after arriving in England and confirmed that the English team are negotiating with his current Brazilian team, Internacional.

“There is a negotiation, but my agent is the one dealing with this, I don’t have any details,” the 20-year-old Oscar said on Monday at Brazil’s training camp just outside London. “If I do end up going to Chelsea, it would be a dream come true for me.”

Internacional club directors have said the negotiations are advanced and only minor details were pending. Brazilian media reported the deal could be worth nearly US$40 million.

Oscar, who appeared as a promising star while playing for Sao Paulo, scored all three Brazil goals in the 3-2 victory over Portugal in the under-20 World Cup final last year. He became a starter in coach Mano Menezes’ Olympic squad after good performances in Brazil’s friendlies played before the team traveled to London.

Lucas is another Brazilian player whose move to a top European club is imminent, with English media reporting that Manchester United have already reached a deal to sign the Sao Paulo forward, also for nearly US$40 million.

The player’s agent, Wagner Ribeiro, dismissed back home in Brazil the news that Lucas had signed with the English club, but Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson reportedly admitted that the club was interested in acquiring the 19-year-old Brazilian.

Lucas has been touted as one of the top players coming out of Brazilian soccer. He started making headlines almost at the same time as Neymar, who is Brazil’s top star and the player expected to lead Brazil to the gold medal in London and then to the 2014 World Cup title at home.

There were plenty of rumors about Neymar’s possible move to Europe in previous years, but the talks about his future virtually ceased after Neymar said sometime ago that he was staying with Brazilian club Santos until after the 2014 World Cup.

Neymar’s teammate at Santos, 22-year-old playmaker Paulo Henrique Ganso, has been linked to a move to Inter in Italy recently, while striker Leandro Damiao reportedly is also considering a few offers from teams in Europe.

Even those who have already left Brazilian soccer are in the middle of negotiations heading into the Olympics. Striker Hulk is one of them, reportedly about to leave Porto for Chelsea.

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