The South American U20 championships were recently completed in Peru, and unsurprisingly to many the Brazilian team won them handily. Also unsurprising is the fact that many teams sent their top scouts to the tournament to watch, as unearthing developing world class talent will be even more important with the upcoming UEFA financial fair play rules. Chelsea's head scout, Piet De Visser, was reportedly at the tournament in person to asses the top young talent in South America.
We tried very hard to sign the top young star in South America, Neymar, last summer. While we were denied in our initial offer, Neymar has continued to impress by leading the tournament in scoring with 9 goals. He undoubtedly will be linked to Chelsea again this summer, and at this point has likely put himself in the price range where only a handful of clubs can afford to pry him away from Santos. De Visser confirmed our continued interest in the young superstar to Brazilian paper O Globo:
"I have watched some players, and yes, Neymar I came to follow more closely"
This certainly bears watching, as one of the major concerns of Neymar's advisers and the Brazilian FA this past summer was the lack of both Brazilian and South American talent on the Chelsea roster to help ease Neymar into life in England. Since that time we've signed Ramires, David Luiz, and been linked heavily to Alexis Sanchez.While scouting Brazil, De Visser was reportedly also interested in two young midfielders who would be relative bargains compared to Neymar. Fernando is an 18 year old attacking midfielder from Gremio who reportedly has a release clause in his contract for under 10 million pounds. Sao Paulo youth Casemiro (also 18) is a more box to box midfielder who is expected to make his senior national team debut very soon. Because of the relative value provided by these two youth, expect many smaller clubs to be involved in the bidding as well.
Also worth noting from today's rumor mill were some quotes from the father of a more established player. The father of Marouane Fellaini recently mentioned interest from Chelsea when talking to reporters:
"The big clubs can see what a good job Marouane is doing and that is why Chelsea are following him intensively… In his position he’d get into the starting XI at any big club."
While I'm not sure I buy into the idea that he'd immediately overtake John Obi Mikel in the holding role here, he certainly has that ability. We've reportedly been linked to him in the past, and with his contract coming closer to expiring it may just be a ploy by his agent to get a better deal with Everton. Still, a player with his size (6'4"), youth (23), and natural ability is always worth watching. It's unlikely at best that his future remains at a club like Everton, as he's definitely of the class to be playing in Europe regularly. If nothing else, between he and David Luiz we'd have two of the most distinctive hairstyles in the world in front of Petr Cech.