Football Features

Brazilian football’s ‘Best Newcomer’ award winners – where are they now?

By Oliver Young-Myles

Brazilian football’s ‘Best Newcomer’ award winners – where are they now?

Published: 15:34, 13 July 2020 | Updated: 15:55, 20 July 2020

Introduced in 2007, the Best Newcomer award is handed out to the breakthrough young talent in Brazil’s Serie A.

It is an accolade that can pave the way to prestigious European clubs. So what has become of the 13 recipients so far?

2007 – Breno

Brazilian football's 'Best Newcomer' award winners – where are they now?

Age at time of award: 17

Position: Centre Back

International apps: 0

Career path: São Paulo, Bayern Munich, FC. Nurnberg (loan), São Paulo, Vasco da Gama

Let’s start off with a bizarre story involving the winner of the 2007 Best Newcomer. Shortly after claiming the award, Breno earned a €12m move to Bayern Munich, where he was immediately integrated into the first-team squad.

But after struggling to secure a place in the starting XI at Bayern, Breno was loaned to FC Nurnberg and a serious knee injury sustained while there proved to be the start of the promising defender’s troubles.

In April 2012, Breno was handed a prison sentence due to an arson charge. He has since returned home to play for his first club, Sao Paulo, but currently he represents Vasco da Gama.

2008 – Keirrison

Brazilian football's 'Best Newcomer' award winners – where are they now?

Age at time of award: 19

Position: Striker

International apps: 0

Career path: Coritiba, Palmeiras, Barcelona, Benfica (loan), Fiorentina (loan), Santos (loan), Cruzeiro (loan), Coritiba, Londrina, Arouca, Coritiba FC, Londrina (loan), Coritiba, Londrina

After scoring goals on a frequent basis with Coritiba and then Palmeiras, Keirrison earned a dream move to the then-European champions Barcelona, managed by none other than Pep Guardiola himself.

Securing first-team football was always going to be a tough ask, though, with Lionel Messi, David Villa, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic all at the club. Unfortunately, Keirrison was unable to make an impact during his numerous loan spells away from Camp Nou, too.

He failed to make a single appearance for Barcelona and, after a litany of loan moves, eventually left in 2014 to return to Coritiba, before joining Serie B side Londrina, though he has since left and is now without a club.

2009 – Fernandinho

Age at time of award: 23

Position: Attacking-midfield

International apps: 0

Career path: Iraty, Daejeon Citizen (loan), Citizen AA (loan), Gremio Barueri, Sao Paulo, Al-Jazira, Atletico Mineiro (loan), Gremio, Hellas Verona (loan), Flamengo (loan), Chongqing Lifan

Nope, not that one. Unlike the Manchester City enforcer, this Fernandinho was an attacking player and a pretty good one at that, scoring goals and providing assists for the unfashionable Gremio Barueri club.

In hindsight, Fernandinho should have stayed put as big moves to Sao Paulo and then Al-Jazira failed to work out and after various loan spells he now finds himself playing for Chongqing Lifan in the Chinese Super League.

2010 – Bruno Cesar

Age at time of award: 21

Position: Forward

International apps: 2

Career path: Santo Andre, Corinthians, Benfica, Al-Ahli, Palmeiras (loan), Estoril, Sporting CP, Vasco da Gama

An impressive debut season with Corinthians which yielded 14 goals in 31 games was enough to persuade Portuguese giants Benfica to shell out €6m to bring Bruno Cesar to Europe.

Cesar made a promising start to his career in Lisbon scoring 10 goals in 26 Primeira Liga games in his first season, but after slipping down the pecking order the following campaign, he headed to Saudi Arabia.

Now aged 31, he has since returned to Portugal, turning out for Benfica’s fierce rivals Sporting CP, before returning to Brazil and representing Vasco da Gama.

2011 – Wellington Nem

Brazilian football's 'Best Newcomer' award winners – where are they now?

Age at time of award: 19

Position: Winger

International apps: 3

Career path: Fluminense, Figueirense (loan), Shakhtar Donetsk, Sao Paulo (2017 loan), Fluminense (2019 loan)

An outstanding season on loan at Figueirense brought Wellington Nem to the attention of Shakhtar Donetsk, who have made a habit of hoovering up the best up and coming talent from Brazil over the past decade.

Nem is still contracted to the Ukrainian side but unlike the likes of Willian, Douglas Costa, and Luiz Adriano, who also donned the amber and black stripes, he is yet to fully showcase his skills on a regular basis.

2012 – Bernard

Brazilian football's 'Best Newcomer' award winners – where are they now?

Age at time of award: 19

Position: Attacking-midfield

International apps: 14

Career path: Atletico Mineiro, Democrata-SL (loan), Shakhtar Donetsk, Everton

Everton’s promising signing was perennially linked to a host of Premier League clubs, notably Arsenal and Spurs, before completing his free transfer to Goodison Park in 2018.

His scintillating displays at Atletico Mineiro saw him make the move to Ukraine. There, Bernard emerged as a key player at Shakhtar during his three years with the club, without perhaps kicking on as much as was previously expected. His reputation was also tainted by his presence in the Brazil team humiliated 7-1 by Germany six years ago.

2013 – Marcelo Cirino

Age at time of award: 21

Position: Striker

International apps: 0

Career path: Atletico Paranaense, Vitoria (loan), Flamengo, Internacional (loan), Al Nasr (loan), Atletico Paranaense, Chongqing Lifan

Unlike virtually everyone else on this list, Marcelo’s ‘Best Newcomer’ award didn’t culminate in a move to Europe as he remained with Atletico Paranaense for a further season.

In total, he netted 30 goals in 108 appearances for the club before joining Flamengo in 2015 where he was noticeably less prolific, scoring four times in 49 matches before moving on.

2014 – Erik Lima

Age at time of award: 19

Position: Striker

International Apps: 0

Career path: Goias, Palmeiras, Atletico Mineiro (loan), Botafogo (loan), Yokohama F. Marinos (loan)

The former Brazil Under-23 international burst onto the scene in 2014 while playing for Goias, for whom he averaged a goal every three games.

In 2015, despite interest from European clubs including Fenerbahce, Lima opted to stay in Brazil, signing a five-year deal with Palmeiras, though he’s currently on loan at Japanese outfit Yokohama F. Marinos.

2015 – Gabriel Jesus

Age at time of award: 18

Position: Striker

International Apps: 39

Career path: Palmeiras, Manchester City

During Guardiola‘s first summer in charge, Manchester City’s spending soared past the £100m mark with the £27m capture of highly sought-after Brazilian wonderkid Gabriel Jesus from Palmeiras. The forward officially linked up with his new club in January 2017 after seeing out the remainder of the Brazilian league season with Palmeiras.

Even with his career, at that point, very much in its infancy, Jesus had still achieved plenty in the game, scoring 28 goals in 83 appearances for Palmeiras. 

The presence of City’s all-time leading marksman Sergio Aguero has limited Jesus’ playing time at the Etihad, but even so 39 goals in 99 Premier League games is not a bad return.

2016 – Vitor Bueno

Age at time of award: 22

Position: Attacking-midfielder

International Apps: 0

Career path: Botafogo, Santos (loan), Santos, Dynamo Kiev (loan), São Paulo

Botafogo Futebol Clube (SP), not to be confused with Botafogo de Futebol e Regatas (the club Garrincha made world famous), the young Bueno would ultimately join regional powerhouse Santos where his talents began to shine.

The attacking midfielder signed a two-year loan contract with Ukrainian giants Dynamo Kyiv, but has since returned to Brazil with São Paulo being his latest club.

2017 – Arthur

Age at time of award: 21

Position: Midfielder

International Apps: 20

Career path: Gremio, Barcelona, Juventus

A talented controlling midfielder, Arthur was the pivot behind Grêmio’s Copa Libertadores triumph, so much so it convinced Barça to make him their first major acquisition ahead of the 2018/19 season.

He’d subsequently become a regular for the Brazil national team under Tite, but his time in Spain is coming to an end after Juventus reached a deal with the Catalan giants for his signature.

2018 – Pedro

Age at time of award: 21

Position: Striker

International Apps: 0

Career path: Fluminense, Fiorentina, Flamengo (loan)

A former teammate of Richarlison at Fluminense, whom he subsequently replaced to make his Serie A debut for the club in 2016. The Rio de Janeiro-born forward received widespread plaudits after finishing as the club’s top goalscorer in 2018, with Fluminense rejecting lucrative offers from Bordeaux and Mexico’s Monterrey.

Eventually the club broke bread with Fiorentina and the promising Brazilian relocated to Italy last summer, where he as since made four appearances and subsequently returned to Brazil, on loan with Flamengo, who have the option to make his temporary stint a permanent one.

2019 – Michael

Age at time of award: 23

Position: Winger

International Apps: 0

Career path: Monte Cristo, Goiânia, Goianésia, Goiás, Flamengo

Michael, alongside 2009 winner Fernandinho, is the oldest recipient of this award at 23, having taken an unconventional route to Serie A prominence. Michael represented amateur sides during his formative years before eventually joining Goiás in 2017.

The 5ft 5in forward helped the ‘Big Green’ secure promotion to Serie A in 2018 and he was in explosive form for the club in 2019 before following Pedro through the door at Flamengo in the January 2020 window, where he has since bagged two goals in 11 games.

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