Damiao, Centurion & the South American stars who could be moving to Europe in January

Goal.com presents the hottest talents from Argentina, Brazil and the rest of the continent who could be emigrating across the Atlantic Ocean before the end of the month
By Daniel Edwards

Across South America, the continent's biggest stars are braving the suffocating summer heat as they prepare for the new season to begin. For many top talents, however, January also means their agents' phones will be red-hot as Europe's top clubs search for the new arrival that could make all the difference for the second half of the season.

The journey across the Atlantic Ocean is already well-worn as the most promising prospects from Argentina, Brazil and the rest of the football-mad region seek their fortunes away from home, and the first transfer window of 2013 will surely be no different. Indeed, the transfers are already in motion; Lucas Moura set the ball rolling by completing a lucrative move to Paris Saint-Germain and earning former club Sao Paulo a cool €45 million in transfer fees.

Goal.com takes a look at five men who could soon be appearing in Serie A, La Liga and Europe's other top divisions, introducing South America's top young talents and analysing whether a new home is on the cards before January 31.

GONZALO BUENO | Nacional, Striker, 19

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Appearances 8
Goals 4
Assists 0
Transfer value 5m
Interested clubs Inter, Bologna
Chance of leaving in January 60%

The academy at Parque Central just keeps turning up young stars of a rare talent. Luis Suarez, Sebastian Coates, Diego Lugano and Nicolas Lodeiro are just some of the players who started life at Nacional before moving on to Europe, and this electrifying young striker could well be the latest gem to take the leap across the Atlantic.

Gonzalo was used primarily off the bench in the 2012 Apertura, but that did not stop him picking up an impressive four goals in eight appearances for the Uruguayan giants. Former team-mate Matias Vecino has already made the move in 2013 to Italy with Fiorentina, and while he fights with his country for the South American Under-20 Championship, rumours persist that a move to Europe, with Bologna and Inter emerging as frontrunners, could well be on the cards for the 19-year-old.

RICARDO CENTURION | Racing Club, Winger, 19

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Appearances 19
Goals 3
Assists 4
Transfer value 15m
Interested clubs Porto, Benfica, Milan, Madrid
Chance of leaving in January 55%

'Ricky' made his Primera Division bow towards the end of the 2012 Clausura championship, but it was in the second half of the year that the pugnacious wideman really made an impact on Argentine football. The teenager was a fixture in a Racing team that recorded their highest points total since winning the 2001 Apertura, delighting fans with his outrageous dribbling skills, fearless approach to the game and calm in front of goal.

Currently on international duty with the Argentina Under-20 side, Ricky has attracted strong attention from Europe. Portuguese sides Benfica and Porto have both had offers rejected, while AC Milan chief Adriano Galliani has spoken of his wish to bring the young star to Italy. Real Madrid have also sent scouts to watch the player who brings to mind a young Angel Di Maria on the field, but Racing are keen to keep their young jewel in Avellaneda; a figure topping €15 million may be necessary to force the Argentine club's hand.

LEANDRO DAMIAO | Internacional, Forward, 23

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Appearances 43
Goals 24
Assists 5
Transfer value 20m
Interested clubs Tottenham
Chance of leaving in January 60%

The forward has been a mainstay of the transfer rumour mill for the last two years, after emerging as one of Brazil's most talented prospects and finding a regular place in the Internacional first-team thanks to his prodigious goalscoring record in Porto Alegre. His employers, however, have been insistent that their star will stay put as long as humanly possible, with clubs of the calibre of Inter, AC Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid all being rebuffed in their approaches in recent transfer windows.

English club Tottenham have been long-term admirers of the powerful yet skilful centre-forward, and are said to have tabled an €18m bid in order to finally take Leandro away from the club with whom he lifted the Copa Libertadores in 2010. Even for such a large sum, however, an Inter side which let Oscar go to Chelsea in the last transfer window are reluctant to say goodbye to another talent, and even Spurs coach Andre Villas-Boas admits that a move in January could be out of the London outfit's reach.

LEANDRO PAREDES | Boca Juniors, Midfielder, 18

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Appearances 13
Goals 4
Assists 0
Transfer value 5m+
Interested clubs Spurs, Milan, Man City
Chance of leaving in January 35%

As statements of trust go, there are few bigger or of greater honour than Boca Juniors' gesture to teenage playmaker Leandro Paredes. The No. 10 shirt, former property of Diego Maradona and Juan Roman Riquelme, has been handed to the young star for the 2013 Final campaign after it was confirmed that his enganche predecessor and idol on the field would not be returning to the Bombonera. It remains to be seen, however, how long Leandro will be in possession of the mythical shirt.

The slightly-built creative midfielder came to prominence in the Inicial with several memorable performances, including a stunning free-kick against Racing Club which helped towards a debut season tally of four goals in 13 appearances. This form has not gone unnoticed. Goal.com revealed in December that AC Milan and Juventus were both following the teenager with interest, while an accessible price tag of around €5 million makes Leandro an attractive prospect for the future. Real Madrid are also potential suitors, having already made enquiries about uniting Paredes with compatriots Gonzalo Higuain and Angel Di Maria in the Bernabeu.

PAULINHO | Corinthians, Midfielder, 24

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Appearances 53
Goals 14
Assists 5
Transfer value 10m+
Interested clubs Inter, PSG, Chelsea
Chance of leaving in January 70%

It is difficult to imagine a more successful player in 2012 than Corinthians' midfield linchpin. Having begun the year as a promising talent in a side that squeaked to the 2011 Brasileiro title, Paulinho established himself in the 12 months that followed as one of the biggest stars of the entire continent. A first Copa Libertadores for the Timao title was inspired by three goals from the 24-year-old, including a stunning winner over Vasco in the quarter-final. As if that was not enough, Paulinho stayed in Sao Paulo to help his side become the first South American club since 2006 to be crowned world champions with victory over Chelsea in the Club World Cup.

The vanquished London club are one of the institutions that have been linked with a move for Paulinho, a strong, aggressive midfielder who is as happy anchoring his side as he is pushing forward. Inter have also shown interest, tabling an €8.5 million bid that was deemed insufficient by the Brazilians; while Paris Saint-Germain defender Thiago Silva has spoken publicly of his desire to see his compatriot play alongside him in France.

It is difficult to see what else this Brazil international, South American and World champion has left to achieve in his home nation; but showing a loyalty to his club that is admirable in the face of such interest, Paulinho has repeatedly stated that for the time being, he is in no rush to leave the club he joined in 2009.

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