11 South American talents ready for the big European move

Jonas Giaever profiles some of the hottest talents on the continent and examines their chances of a move to the Premier League or beyond this summer...

Gabriel Barbosa

  • Age: 19
  • Nationality: Brazilian
  • Club: Santos
  • Position: Striker

When Neymar left the pitch for the final time as a Santos player in 2013, it was the 16-year old Gabriel Barbosa who replaced him. Simply known as “Gabigol” due to his goalscoring record, he was known in Brazil long before making his debut.

In fact, having been at Santos since the age of eight, Gabriel scored over 600 goals for Santos’ youth teams. Though often compared to Neymar, he operates in a more central role for his club side.

Gabriel Barbosa

'Gabigol' scored more than 600 goals at youth level

Barbosa has quickly become a crowd favourite if used as a striker, or playing in a wider role to make space for Ricardo Oliveira. All the European big guns have been following his every move.

His finishing is nothing short of sublime while his technical ability allows him to create chances for himself. He has become a constant threat, and even though he perhaps doesn’t mimic Neymar’s swagger and playfulness, he has become a worthy successor to the role as main man up front at Santos.

It could be a big summer for Barbosa, as he’s been called up to Brazil’s Copa Centenario squad and will most likely feature alongside Neymar in the Rio Olympics.

Gabriel Jesus

  • Age: 19
  • Nationality: Brazilian
  • Club: Palmeiras
  • Position: Winger/striker

While Gabigol is the one compared to Neymar, many believe it is his namesake at Palmeiras who resembles the Brazilian superstar.

With his ability to run at defenders, cause all sorts of havoc with his technical ability and finish off chances, Gabriel Jesus is a player sought after by the biggest clubs around Europe.

There’s a reason that Manchester United are rumoured to have already put in a bid to secure the 19-year old sensation. He impressed at youth level, often scoring more goals than he had games, and at 19 years of age he has 15 goals in 52 matches.

Gabriel Jesus

Man United have been linked with Brazil youth international Jesus

Jesus combines electric pace with immense technical ability and has become known to embarrass defenders on a regular basis. The hope is for him and Gabigol to steer Brazil towards success for years to come.

Marlos Moreno

  • Age: 19
  • Nationality: Colombian
  • Club: Atlético Nacional
  • Position: Winger

Many hail Moreno as the brightest talent in South America. The 19-year old Colombian has shown his talent by often single-handedly running Atlético Nacional’s attack.

His pace and power is a sight to behold, but he also has the technical ability to weave in and out and be a livewire for his team. He also seems to possess enough footballing IQ to understand the importance of involving others in the build-up and therefore seems a more complete player for his young age.

Has been one of the breakout stars of this year’s Copa Libertadores and has also been given his national team debut by Colombia national team coach José Pékerman.

Zeca

  • Age: 21
  • Nationality: Brazilian
  • Club: Santos
  • Position: Left-back

Another throwback to the offensive Brazilian full back, Zeca has proven over the past couple of seasons that he can combine offensive contributions with solid defensive ability.

Though he made his debut in 2014, he fell behind the likes of Caju and Eugenio Mena as the starting left-back. He has since proved his critics wrong and made the position his own at Santos.

Zeca uses his speed to penetrate the opposing defence and tracks down his man with ease. He’s added another layer to his game by becoming a reliable passer and is expected to start for the Olympic team this summer, being held in high regard in Brazil.