Three Brazilians have joined La Liga to follow in the footsteps of Neymar, Ronaldinho and Romario – and now form part of the eternal rivalry
3 – Malcom (Barcelona)
Malcom was linked to several English clubs such as Tottenham and Arsenal in the January transfer window, as it seemed very likely he would end up in the Premier League. But negotiations stalled after Bordeaux refused to sell, thinking they’d get higher bids in the summer.
Eventually did as Barcelona sealed the signing of the 21-year old for around $60 millions. The former Corinthians star was regarded as one of the hottest prospects in France, thanks to his technical quality, end-product and ability to take on opponents in one-on-one situations. Malcom scored two goals in pre-season, against AS Roma and Boca Juniors, but he is set to have fierce competition for a place with Ousmane Dembelé, who is another talented winger with the same age.
2 – Vinicius Júnior (Real Madrid)
Real Madrid still regret missing-out on Neymar, who would have been the best possible Cristiano Ronaldo replacement. Instead, Vinícius Júnior became the most expensive teenager in football history, when the Champions of Europe sealed his transfer for around $54 million.
After a decent pre-season with impressive displays, especially against Manchester United and Juventus, Vinícius’ life won’t be easy and he might well regret not taking a loan spell where he’d get more game-time. However, with Cristiano Ronaldo gone and Gareth Bale being injury-prone, it’s possible that the 18-year-old gains more minutes than it is expected and manages to have an impact from his first season. It is more realistic to remain sceptical, as he was not involved in the UEFA Super Cup final against Atlético Madrid, despite his manager Julen Lopetegui being able to use four substitutions, as the game went to extra-time.
3 – Arthur (Barcelona)
Barcelona has relied on a strong midfield and possession-football more than anything else, to achieve its major successes over the past decade. There is no doubt that Xavi Hernandez and Andrès Iniesta were the dream duo for the philosophy that the Catalan club follows.
With both of them having left the club now, it was time to launch a new era by making signings who have the potential to be long-term replacements. If Coutinho is seen as Iniesta’s heir, then Arthur may well be seen as Xavi’s, by Catalan press, at least, after having completed his transfer from Grêmio for around $45 million.
The technical quality of the 21-year old allows him to retain the ball under pressure, calmly distribute it and move it forward. He is a sort of no-error player, a prototype, he rarely gives away possession, just like Xavi. Arthur has the potential to live-up to the expectations, but his first season in Europe will be his most difficult challenge. Interesting times ahead for Barça fans.