Welcome to the latest installment of my series where I try to predict and point out potential Union targets for positions of need. Last time out we looked at left-backs who are currently playing in Argentina and this time out we’re continuing to build out the list of left-back targets, but this time we head to Brazil.
Union Transfer Targets – Brazilian Left Backs
Brazil’s youth talent is amongst the best in the world and the amount of quality young prospects they produce each and every year is insane. It’s the perfect place for a guy like Tanner to go shopping for the next young stars for Philadelphia Union.
Welington – 21 – Sao Paulo
Welington is, most likely, the most expensive player on this list but he’s also a very interesting player who really intrigued me when I watched him play. Welington made his debut back in 2021 and has impressed fans in Brazil with his performances so far.
At the moment, Welington has played exclusively at left-back and left-wing back, but I’m not sure if that’s his best position with the skillset and style of play he has. I think it’s just the usual, Brazilian defenders are just a different animal to every other nation because Welington seems a lot better going forward than he does defending.
Welington is extremely quick and never seems to run out of gas, his positioning and marking are very good and it allows him to be a good defender. Going forward, Welington is very good on the ball and moving with the ball at his feet, his passing range is incredible for a defender and his crossing is at a pretty good standard with a lot of room to grow.
Welington does have issues as a defender, mainly his tackling and it might hinder him in the near future, but he is only 21 and shows a lot of potential and skill already. I’ve talked before about Matt Real but he provides a solid quick-fix option if Tanner and the Union want to buy someone on the younger side and develop them for a year.
Paulo Victor – 21 – Internacional
Paulo Victor is definitely one of my favourite players on this list and is one I can definitely see Union having eyes on already, he fits the Kai Wagner archetype perfectly and would be a like-for-like replacement when the time comes.
Paulo Victor is currently on loan to Club Regotas Vasco until the summer of 2023, but if Philly wants him right now, I’d imagine the loan would be called off, it would all depend on when Kai finally leaves. Paulo is a do it all left-back who’s impressive as both a defensive player and a creative one.
Paulo’s crossing and passing range are very impressive for his position, he’s extremely skillful with the ball at his feet and has good enough pace to keep up with the majority of wingers. I was impressed with Paulo’s tackling when I watched him play but he definitely needs to work on his positioning and marking when it comes to defending, his tackling can get him out of issues but he’s still playing a dangerous game.
I’d imagine Paulo would be in the upper price range of what Union would be looking to pay and I’d love to see him in Philly. He’s already very impressive at just 21 years old. He has his whole career ahead of him and the Union would be a really good place for him to develop.
Matheus Bahia – 23 – Esporte Clube Bahia
Matheus Bahia is a little different from everyone I’ll have on this list but I think he might be a true diamond in the rough. Bahia is a really athletic left-back who plays really well on both sides of the ball. His great technical ability, which is shown mainly through his passing and crossing, mixed with his quality defensive work makes him a really good option for Philly when it comes time to replace Kai.
Bahia really impressed me with how well-rounded he is as a player. I never got the feeling that his ability in any skill would be an issue moving forward, sure he could definitely improve in areas like moving with the ball at his feet and his decision-making, but nothing stood out as a glaring issue and he’s only 23 with 52 senior games under his belt.
Bahia feels like a true Tanner signing, to most fans Bahia would just be a random, young left-back from Brazil that only a few had heard of, but you know exactly how those Tanner signings work out for the Union. Out of all the players on this list, Bahia is the one who I’d pin my hat on as actually being on Philly’s list.
Hugo – 21 – Botafogo
I’m pushing the boat back out again after mentioning Bahia as Hugo is one of the bigger and more exciting young prospects in Brazil. He’ll also command a big fee and I’m not sure if it’s in the realm of possibility for the Union, but man would it send out a signal that they mean business if they did.
Hugo is a very technically gifted left-back who loves to get forward and contribute to his team’s attack. Hugo’s passing and crossing range are very impressive and he’s great on the ball too but he’s not let that hurt his defensive contributions and is a solid defender overall.
Hugo’s a solid tackler and someone who’s usually in a good position and marking his man well, covers the back post well from crosses too and doesn’t allow his man to get a free header at the back post. From what I’ve heard from having conversations with people in Brazil, Hugo is a real asset off the pitch and is showing really good leadership qualities already and always puts his all into training etc.
Hugo would be a difficult purchase to pull off for Union, mainly the fee but also the fact Botafogo are probably unwilling to even listen to offers, but if they did somehow pull it off, it would be massive and a huge step up from what Union usually do in the transfer window.
Busanello – 24 – Chapecoense
Busanello may be my favourite player on this list and it’s because he fits a type of player that I’ve always loved since I was a kid watching football. Busanello is a physical and technically gifted left-back who loves to get forward and plays left-back almost like he’s a left winger.
That may sound very problematic but Busanello is a very good defender too, with great positioning, very good tackling, and the IQ to understand what wingers are trying to do. At no point do you feel like Busanello would be a defensive liability.
Busanello truly shines going forward, he’s a true, technically gifted Brazilian who’s great on the ball, creates chances, and my favourite attribute of his is his shot power and long shots. He’s really not afraid to take shots from distance and, although it’s not like he’s netting them every time, he’s fairly accurate with them and they can lead to GK mistakes and corners.
He was currently on loan at Ukrainian side Dnipro, so Chapecoense may well be open to selling him permanently, and if that’s the case then the Union should be all over it.
Lucas Esteves – 22 – Palmeiras
Lucas Esteves should be a name that looks familiar to MLS fans as he spent the 21-22 season with Colorado Rapids on loan. I thought he was fairly good during his time in Colorado and definitely showed a lot of potential in the 44 games he appeared in.
Lucas is currently on loan to Brazilian club Fortaleza until December, so it’s likely Philly would have to wait to make a move, unless the loan deal has a recall clause in there. Overall, Lucas is a fairly attacking-minded left-back who loves to get forward and may make the transition to playing as a winger at some point in his career.
That would usually put me off but Lucas has shown his defensive ability well so far in his career and I think he’d be a solid option for Philly when looking for Kai’s replacement, especially given he’s already spent a season in the MLS.
As I said in the opening of this piece, Brazil is full of young talent just waiting to either make their break in Brazil or looking for a move elsewhere and so this article could have been 30-40 players long. Next up in the series is a trip to Europe, specifically Scandanavia, where Union has done business before.
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Mandatory Credit: Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire