ANALYSIS - Raisa Simplicio & Rupert Fryer
In his first post-World Cup Brazil squad, coach Tite brought in a number of new faces as he begins a new cycle for the Selecao.
The coaching staff did, however, retain a number of established internationals – 13 of the 23 that went to Russia remain – with the idea being to blend youth and experience, with the more established players charged with setting the standard for a new generation.
Flamengo's Lucas Paqueta, Pedro, Fabinho, Andreas Pereira and Arthur all look set to play a role in Brazil’s long-term future, but there was also room for more mature newcomers in 30-year-old Cruzeiro defender Dede and Porto stopper Felipe.
The plan, then, is clear. And in every squad for the remainder of the year there is likely to be at least a couple of fresh faces as the Selecao begin work ahead of next year’s Copa America with World Cup 2022 at the forefront of their four-year project.
Below, we take a closer look at the new arrivals who will join the five-time world champions on next month’s Brasil Global Tour in USA.
The current leading scorer in Brazil’s top division, Fluminense striker Pedro has impressed with the sort of characteristics that Brazil have appeared to lack in recent years. Tall, strong and with an impressive positional sense in the final-third, the 21-year-old has led the line with aplomb for the Rio club.
Tite is gambling on the youngster whose performances over the past 12 months have certainly been worthy of an international call-up. And the boss is keen to experiment with a different type of forward than Gabriel Jesus – who has been left out completely – and Roberto Firmino.
Another midfielder hoping to be the future of the Seleaco, Arthur has arrived in Barcelona and has already faced the daunting comparisons to Xavi and Andres Iniesta. The smart-passing, cerebral midfielder is something of an anomaly in modern Brazilian football and there are now high hopes for him both in Spain and back home.
Paulinho’s exit has opened up another slot in the midfield rotation and the former Gremio man will now have to navigate his new surroundings. He has shown encouraging signs in his early days in Spain and, having been called up by Tite once before, he appears likely to begin a long and successful international career next month.
Fabinho took a different route after joining Real Madrid as a youngster, finding his feet in the B team before Monaco converted him from right-back to holding midfielder over a couple of seasons that saw him establish himself as one of Europe’s most-wanted.
A switch to an exciting Liverpool side, led by Jurgen Klopp, will increase his international chances after he failed to even enter the conversation around Brazil’s potential World Cup squad earlier this year. Despite not playing full-back for the past two seasons now, he was selected as a right-back by Tite, who spoke to the player about a positional return prior to last week's squad announcement.
Another star of the current Brasileirao, Everton has set the tone for a league title-chasing Gremio, who have notably blown hot and cold this season as their dependence on their talisman grows.
Quick, skilful and an endless source of vertical thrust, he has become increasingly focused on finding the goal over the past year and is his side’s leading scorer this season. His all-round game has improved considerably under the guidance of Renato Gaucho, who has increasingly built his side’s attack around the 22-year-old wide-man.
One of the great promises of Brazilian football, the Flamengo man made coach Tite’s list of reserves for this year’s World Cup after a breakthrough season in Rio. The dynamic, tricky attacking midfielder lit up the iconic Brazilian city with a series of outstanding performances this year. Much has also been made of his grounded and humble personality, too, despite heavy interest from some of the world’s leading clubs.
Tite is keen to add more invention to the centre of his midfield and Paqueta's ability to feature in a number of different midfield and attacking roles made him a natural inclusion. The coach and his staff may also be keen to discover whether or not the 20-year-old can provide the box-to-box presence they felt they missed at the World Cup.
The Manchester Untied midfielder impressed in a deep-lying midfield role during pre-season but was still a surprise inclusion in the Brazil squad. However, with passing, inventive players in central midfield zones at the core of Tite’s idea of play, the 22-year-old appears exactly what the coaching staff will be looking for.
The omission of Renato Augusto from the first-team ahead of the World Cup saw Brazil unable to retain possession and dictate the tempo as well as they had done previously under Tite and they will be hoping the likes of Andreas Pereira and Arthur can fill the void over the coming years.
30-year-old Dede was supposed to have played a major role in Brazil’s recent history by now, but instead next month’s Brasil Global Tour could see him make his first international appearance for five years.
Once singled out as a potential world-beater, injuries robbed the former Vasco man of a career that looked primed to take him to Europe’s leading clubs. Fighting fit and impressing at Cruzeiro, Dede made Tite’s list of standbys for the World Cup and is far and away the oldest of the new faces in the squad.
Brazil will meet USA at MetLife Stadium on September 7 before hosting El Salvador at FedExField on September 11.