RIO DE JANEIRO - The Brazilian soccer league resumed after the World Cup and remains filled with players who are the target of leading European clubs. Real Madrid have already secured strikers Flamengo's Vinicius Jr. and Santos' Rodrygo. Here are five more target names to know:
The 21-year-old Fluminense striker is one of the top goal scorers in the Brazilian championship after netting nine times in 12 matches. On Sunday, Pedro showed his class with a back-heel kick in his team's 2-1 victory against Sport Recife. Brazilian media reported Italian clubs AC Milan and Roma are interested but Pedro said no concrete offers have been made. Pedro is a pupil of former Brazil center-forward, Fred, who played at Fluminense until last year. In a recent social media posting, Fred called the striker his "beloved son" and said Pedro could score up to 30 goals this year if he stays. His tally in all competitions in 2018 is 17 goals in 31 matches.
The 20-year-old Flamengo midfielder was chosen by Brazil coach Tite for his list of possible substitutes of World Cup squad members. Paqueta's international future seems certain, while his 2018 season has revealed an even smarter player than the one who carried his team to the Copa Sudamericana final last year. Paqueta has sometimes played as a false nine, which has helped Flamengo top the Brazilian championship after 14 rounds. His fast dribbles and through passes have impressed not only coach Tite, but also Real Madrid left-back Marcelo: "I wish I had 1 percent of that left leg," Marcelo said.
Militao is a multitasker. The 20-year-old Sao Paulo player is useful in defense or as a defensive midfielder. Porto seems to be close to signing him for 4 million euros and a percentage of any future sale. Last year Militao was linked to Juventus, who are still interested. Militao's contract expires at the start of 2019, and Sao Paulo wants to use him until the end of the year to have a shot at winning the national title for the first time in 10 years.
The Sao Paulo defensive midfielder is only 20 years old and first got noticed by scouts at the start of this year in a junior competition. He has worked with the first team since March and it took him weeks to become a starter. A great passer of the ball, and a staunch marker, Liziero has been compared to Real Madrid's Casemiro. That comparison may not be entirely fair as Liziero has become more and more a box-to-box player, and has helped to put Sao Paulo in second place so far in the Brazilian championship. His team has one of the best defenses, thanks in large part to the midfielder's contributions.
The 20-year-old Corinthians striker follows the Brazilian tradition of talented dribblers and is seen as one of the country's most promising players. His best performances have been on the right flank, but he can also play in the center and on the left. He's working on his fitness since he needs to be more physical to impress over 90 minutes. Pedrinho has scored three goals for the Sao Paulo-based giants so far, and even more importantly provided a series of entertaining performances that have made him a crowd favorite. Agents said Ajax offered 20 million euros ($23.4 million) for the Brazilian, but Corinthians set his transfer fee at 50 million euros.