By Mark Doyle
Shortly after making his Roma debut, Marquinhos went to the Vatican 'to give thanks' for just how little time it had taken him to force his way into the Giallorossi’s first team. Whatever one’s thoughts on religion, it is not difficult to comprehend just why the Brazilian feels that his career is being guided by a benevolent force.
This, after all, is a teenager who earned a move to Italy on the back of just six first team appearances for Corinthians. Now, less than a year later, he has been signed by Paris Saint-Germain for a staggering €35 million. To put that figure in context, it is just seven million less than the Ligue 1 giants paid for Thiago Silva last summer.
Yes, both are technically gifted Brazilian defenders. Yes, both were prised away from Italian clubs. But Marquinhos only turned 19 in May. He has yet to be capped even once by the Selecao. He only made 30 appearances in Serie A last season, meaning he has featured in just 36 senior games as a professional. And yet PSG have decided to make Marquinhos one of the most expensive defenders in history. Why?
Well, there is no denying that the Sao Paulo native has been well and truly blessed. At 1.83 metres, he is by no means gigantic, while he has yet to truly fill out. However, Marquinhos boasts a deceptive strength that has been complemented by a wonderful technical ability honed by 10 years in Corinthians’ youth academy.
|0||Appearances Marquinhos has made for Brazil's senior side.|
|3||His 'lucky number'. However, he has been assigned the number '5' shirt at Paris Saint-Germain.|
|6||Number of appearances he made for Corinthians before being sold to Roma for a final total of €4.5 million.|
|35||Amount of millions PSG decided to pay the Giallorossi for his services after just one full season in Serie A.|
|36||The grand total of games Marquinhos has played at senior level during his fledgling career.|
However, while he is tremendously composed with the ball at his feet, Marquinhos is no wannabe David Luiz, an attacker trapped in a defender’s body. He will not risk neglecting his defensive duties by recklessly setting off upfield in search of goals or glory. He is far too humble for that. This is a player to whom so much has come so quickly, and yet he has managed to maintain an endearing modesty.
When asked about his startling quick progression to becoming a first-team regular at Roma in May of this year, he replied: "I was surprised too. But I know that I have achieved nothing yet. I read all the praise, so many nice words, but I must work hard in order to improve. In everything. I want to do more, to work every day to become stronger. Even if to dream is beautiful, only with application can one achieve results.”
Consequently, it seems that there is little chance of him failing to continue his remarkably rapid rise to the very highest level now that he has relocated to Paris. With his work ethic and grounded approach to the game - and indeed life - it is difficult to see how he could do anything but improve under the tutelage of both Laurent Blanc and Thiago Silva, the man he is regularly compared with.
It is also unlikely that he will be fazed by the prospect of trying to justify his hefty transfer fee because while Marquinhos may be humble, he does not lack belief in his perceived God-given talent.
"I am a quiet guy and I transfer my serenity into games,” he stated earlier this year. “I have no fear of responsibility.”
In truth, he seems to fear nothing in football: certainly not leaving his childhood club at 18 to move to a different country at the age of 18; or joining PSG for €35 million; or being touted as the 'new Thiago Silva'. Not even having just 12 months to force his way into the Brazil squad in time for next year's World Cup.
"Why shouldn’t I think about that?” he asked himself rhetorically back in November. “After everything that’s happened I just don’t know what’s possible or impossible for me anymore. I’m going to fight for it and I think it could happen.”
Indeed, given what Marquinhos has achieved over the past 12 months, who would bet against Thiago Silva being paired with his heir apparent next summer?