What lineup could Santos have if the club did not sell the best pupils of Santos – a very special Brazilian club. If only because the “fish” gave world football its king – the majestic Pele, who is still the only three-time world champion in history. However, in addition to Pele, the Santos academy in different years produced a lot of incredibly high-quality footballers. It doesn’t make the slightest sense to list them all, because it will take a lot of time, and the material will turn into a text with a clearly encyclopedic shade.But today we decided to take a look at what the composition of Santos could be like at the current moment if this club did not sell its best pupils. Perhaps you, too, will be surprised by the scattering of familiar and in some ways even iconic surnames on this list …
Goalkeeper – RAPHAEL
Age: 30 years
Current club: Reading
Games for Santos: 189
Rafael started at the Santos academy at the age of 13. Seven years later, he reached the first team of “fish”, with which he won five trophies in three years, and then went to conquer football Europe. Rafael’s contract from Santos in the summer of 2013 was bought by Napoli for 5 million euros. In Italy, the keeper spent five seasons, but in only one he was an important player in the first team. In 2018, he moved to Sampdoria, but failed to “find himself” again, and therefore preferred to leave for Foggy Albion a year ago. Rafael now stands for Reading, where he played 44 matches in the 2019/20 Championship. He is far from being a top keeper, but he has 3 appearances for the Brazilian national team.
Right-back – DANILO
Current club: Juventus
Games for Santos: 78
Danilo made his first steps in football at Atletico Mineiro, but in 2010 he moved to Santos, where he made a name for himself in just two seasons. Danilo’s successful play attracted the attention of overseas scouts, thanks to which in the summer of 2011 13 million euros came to the fish’s bank accounts, and the right fullback went to Porto. “Dragons” once again wisely invested in the South American talent, as four years later they sold Danilo to Real Madrid for 31.5 million euros. Subsequently, the defender also played for Manchester City, and last summer for 37 million he moved to Juventus, where he is one of the players in the first team.
Center-back – GUSTAVO ENRIKE
Current club: Flamengo
S the first days in football Gustavo Enrique was in the structure of “Santos”, where he showed serious hopes. Perhaps, like many other talents of the club, some of the European giants would have taken him away at an early age, but at the dawn of his career, Gustavo Enrique suffered two severe knee injuries. However, the center-back managed to return to the quality level and helped Santos win two championships in the Paulista League. Gustavo Enrique played for the “fish” until January of this year, when he moved to Flamengo as a free agent.
Center-back – MARCELO
Current club: Lyon
65 appearances for Santos
Marcelo Antonio Gedes Filho, or simply Marcelo, came to the Santos academy when he was 17 years old. Three years later, the center-back secured a first-team spot for only two seasons before moving to the Old Continent. The first European club in Marcelo’s career was Wisla Krakow, which signed a defender as a free agent. Subsequently, the Poles sold the bek for 3.8 million euros to PSV, and then the German Hannover and the Turkish Besiktash were in the Brazilian career. In the summer of 2017, Lyon bought Marcelo’s contract for 7 million euros from the Black Eagles, in whose ranks the age defender still plays.
Left-back – ALEX SANDRO
Age: 29 years
Current club: Juventus
Games for Santos: 53
Alexa Sandro with It’s a stretch to call Santos a graduate, but this team directly and significantly influenced the growth of his football qualities and career. In the “fish” camp, the left fullback spent a year and a half on loan from the Uruguayan club Deportivo Maldonado, which actually owned the player’s contract (in South America, schemes with little-known clubs that give talented players on loan to the local giants are very common). Then Alex Sandro bought Porto for 9.6 million euros, and four years later the dragons sold the Brazilian to Juventus for 26 million. Since then, Alex Sandro has been the key left fullback of the top Turin club, having won nine trophies in its ranks in five years.
Defensive midfielder – TIAGO MAIA
Current club: Flamengo
122 Santos matches
Maya, at the age of 17, managed to make his debut for the first team of Santos, becoming one of the team’s most promising footballers at that time. For the next two and a half seasons, Thiago only convinced the overseas scouts of his solvency, before in the summer of 2017 the “fish” did not receive a fax from Lille with an offer to sell Thiago Maya for 14 million euros, which was immediately accepted. The first two seasons in France were successful for the midfielder, but then he lost the trust of the coaching staff of the “dogs”, which is why in January this year he was loaned out for a season at Flamengo. But once Thiago Maya was one of the key figures in the Brazilian national team, which won the historic “gold” at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Central midfielder – DIEGO
Current club: Flamengo
127 appearances for Santos
In the first team of Santos in the Brazilian Serie A, Diego made his debut in 2002 when he was only 17 years old. He quickly proved that he possesses all the qualities necessary for a successful game in the center of the pitch, thanks to which in the summer of 2004 the “fish” sold Diego to Porto for 7 million euros. Two seasons later, the Brazilian left for Werder Bremen, where he became the real leader of the team, which allowed the Bremenites to make good money on Diego’s transfer to Juventus – the Turinans paid the Germans 27 million euros.
But in Italy, the midfielder spent only one season, after which he returned to the Bundesliga, though already in the ranks of Wolfsburg. Subsequently, having played for Atletico Madrid and Besiktas Istanbul, he returned to Brazil, where he has been playing for Flamengo since summer 2017. By the way, Diego won gold in Brasileirao with the vultures in 2019.
Right attacking midfielder – FELIPE ANDERSON
Age: 27 years
Current club: West Ham
Games for Santos: 106
In the first team of Santos, Felipe Anderson made his debut largely due to a series of injuries, which then overtook the main players of the “fish” in this position. However, from the very first matches, the technique and the ability to handle the ball performed by this midfielder showed the coaches that there was no need to return the former leaders to the base. In 2011, Felipe Anderson won the Copa Libertadores with Santos, and two years later he was sold to Lazio for 7.5 million euros. He spent five years in Italy, being one of the leaders of the Roman “eagles”, and since the summer of 2018 he has been playing in the Premier League for West Ham, which forked out for the right to seize the transfer of the Brazilian for 38 million euros.
Central attacking midfielder – NEYMAR
Current club: Paris Saint-Germain
The main “golden boy” of modern Brazilian football, Neymar spent 10 years at Santos after joining the academy of “fish” in 2003. With great dribbling and fantastic scoring flair, Neymar amassed 136 goals in 223 matches for the team before moving to Barcelona. In Spain, the Brazilian formed a percussion trio with two other South Americans – Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi, who was known in the football world under the MSN acronym.
Blaugranas played for until 2017 , after which he went to Paris Saint-Germain for 222 million euros, being to this day the most expensive footballer in the history of world football. In Paris, Neymar’s task was to get out of the shadow of Lionel Messi and win the Ballon d’Or, and help the new team win the Champions League, but so far these peaks remain unconquered …
Left attacking midfielder – RODRIGO
Current club: Real Madrid
Rodrigo has been studying at the Santos academy since he was 10 years old, and had every chance of becoming the “second Neymar”, but chose to leave Brazil much earlier than his stellar predecessor. Already at the age of 18, Rodrigo’s contract for 45 million euros from Santos was bought by Real Madrid, which made a bet on the acquisition of young and considered incredibly gifted talents. In addition, the Spanish capital was very much afraid that Rodrigo, like Neymar before, would again take Barcelona away, which would be a very painful blow for the Blancos. While at Real, Rodrigo is just getting used to it, but in his debut season he took part in 19 La Liga games. True, he scored only 2 goals, but there is no reason to doubt that the best matches and seasons in Rodrigo’s career are still ahead.
Center forward – GABRIELLE BARBOSA
Current club: Flamengo
157 Santos appearances
Gabriel Barbosa, aka Gabigol, at 20 at the age of 18 he left Santos, having signed a contract with Inter, which gave 29.5 million euros for the striker. However, the young striker could not become the leader of the attacks of the Milan grandee. Faced with outright harassment from fans and the media, Gabigol was forced to leave Inter. He went on loan twice – first to Benfica, and then to Santos, but they did not end with a full buyout of the contract.
This happened after Gabriel’s third loan Barboses in Flamengo. The forward scored a phenomenal 25 goals in 29 Brasileirao appearances, which helped the vultures buy his contract from Inter for € 17.5 million in January this year. Since then, Gabigol is a full-fledged football player of Flamengo, with whom he has already won the championship and the Brazilian Cup, as well as the Copa Libertadores in the 2018/19 season.