Mar 24, 2011

The new recruits from Desportivo Brasil - Manchester United's South American talent factory

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While eyes were fixed on the Old Trafford directors' box last Saturday to see if Fabio Capello would finally get up close and personal with Rio Ferdinand over the England captaincy issue, many would have missed the five Brazilian boys sitting six rows behind the Italian. Long after Capello's discarded skipper ends his career at United, the club hope their tie-up with Sao Paulo academy Desportivo Brasil will provide them with a steady stream of talent. The process is part of a painstaking two-and-a-half-year project by the Barclays Premier League leaders to develop their own talent in South America rather than splash out huge fees on the next generation of stars. Confidentiality agreements prevent Desportivo Brasil from revealing which of their 100-plus teenagers have a pre-contract agreement with United, but Sportsmail has learned that the five players pictured at Old Trafford are called Gladstony, Aguilar, Lucas Evangelista, Agnaldo and Rafael Leao. Youths of today: Gladstony (1), Aguilar (2), Lucas Evangelista (3), Agnaldo, (4), and Rafael Leao (5) watch from the directors' box, as does Fabio Capello (circled bottom right) The five are now visiting Dutch champions Twente, who United plan to use as a holding club for the boys to gain European Union passports. Midfielders Gladstony and Rafael Leao will be 18 later this year the age at which they can legally sign for a club outside Brazil but tight immigration laws in England mean they are unlikely to be granted work permits as, unlike United defenders Rafael or Fabio da Silva, they have not even represented their country at youth level. This is where Twente come in. Holland will happily let the boys play there, where they can stay until they qualify for an EU passport or get enough international experience for a UK work permit. Desportivo Brasil is owned by sprawling South American football company Traffic, whose president of international business Jochen Losch told Sportsmail: 'Twente are a partner, helping United to resolve the problem of their EU passports. For two reasons it's good that a player goes first to Holland. First, after two or three years he's considered to be European. And of course it's easier to play in the Dutch league than the Premier League.' The players all live inside a multimillion-pound training centre in Porto Feliz, a 90-minute drive from bustling Sao Paulo where they enjoy better training facilities than at most major Brazilian clubs. But Desportivo Brasil do not dream of winning the league title or the Copa Libertadores; their raison d'etre is to have the best youth teams in South America and sell on their talent. The designated United players are given extra English lessons, sessions with a psychologist about being away from home and visits to the Carrington training complex they may one day call home. If United go through with a signing, they pay a set fee, based on a player's position rather than ability. The Brazilian academy, set up by Traffic, then retain a hefty 50 per cent sell-on clause. Losch said: 'Manchester United look for young players in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. If they find a good one they come to us. We'll get the player, register him with Desportivo Brasil, and we have a contract with United that they have an option to buy this player at 18 for a fixed amount. 'If the guy turns out to be an Alexandre Pato (the striker who left Internacional for AC Milan for nearly ?20million on his 18th birthday) United can still have him for a huge discount because of course we'll honour the contract. If they don't like the player, we keep him.' The partnership was struck after United's pursuit of the Da Silva twins. They were first spotted as 15-year-olds but could not be formally taken out of Brazil until their 18th birthday, meaning they risked being neglected in the Fluminense youth team and they never made a senior appearance in Brazil. One of the brightest hopes on Desportivo Brasil's books is striker Aguilar, who was 16 a fortnight ago but was called up by Brazil's Under 17 squad for training in January. Aguilar was signed by Belo Horizonte side Cruzeiro in 2009. However, because contracts are not valid before a player's 16th birthday, Desportivo Brasil were able to take him to Porto Feliz a year ago, prompting an angry reaction from Cruzeiro president Zeze Perrella. Talent spot: United scouts noticed Fabio da Silva (left) at 15, while Pato (right) left Internacional in 2007 for almost ?20million Aguilar's former coach Joao Paulo Tardim said: 'There is no doubt about his quality. Saying he will become a great player is an exercise in predicting the future, but the chances of it happening are very high.' English scouts will no doubt be at the Emirates on Sunday to see Brazil, with exciting Santos striker Neymar and Sao Paulo playmaker Lucas, take on Scotland. But the pair have recently signed contracts setting their value at ?39m and ?66m respectively. If United's project comes off, it will have been a long game worth playing.  Manchester United lining up ?3m deal for Chilean teenage sensation Fresh fears over United's finances as Glazers record massive ?109m lossesChelsea close in on 'new Kaka': Sao Paulo starlet Piazon to move for ?8mRamires is finding his feet at Chelsea... after some inspiration from LucasAll the latest Manchester United news, features and opinion  Explore more:People: Fabio Capello, Fabio Da Silva, Rio Ferdinand Places: Milan, Argentina, Scotland, The Netherlands, Paraguay, United Kingdom, Brazil



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