From Brazil to the big time: A good idea?

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Internacional president Giovanni Luigi today challenged Chelsea to make ‘history’ by tabling a bid for midfielder Oscar that would make him the most expensive player to come out of Brazil.

The talented playmaker has been linked with a move to Tottenham but it appears Chelsea are close to getting their man – all they have to do it would seem is surpass the €31 million paid by Real Betis to Sao Paulo for Denilson in 1998.

However before they do that the Blues ought to check their history books – the pathway from South America to the big leagues of Europe is fraught with danger.

Most take the option of plying their trade in a smaller European league before signing for one of the big boys, but occasionally a player is deemed good enough to bypass this stage and go straight in at the deep end.

So with Chelsea seemingly about to spend millions on a player without any European experience, how have the biggest and best Brazilian imports fared when heading straight into one of the top five European leagues?

Denilson, Sao Paulo to Real Betis - €31 million (1998)

A poster boy for unfulfilled potential, the transfer of Denilson from Sao Paulo will go down as one of the worst of all time.

Having made his debut for Sao Paulo aged just 17, Denilson was labelled the next big thing in world football and helped his side claim success in the 1994 Copa CONMEBOL.

His then record transfer fee of €31 million heaped the pressure on the youngster and he failed to respond, instead scoring just 13 times in 186 games before Betis got relegated in 2000. He left the club for good in 2005.

Alexandre Pato, Internacional to AC Milan, €24 million (2007)

Pato’s time in Europe thus far has been something of a mixed bag as his un-doubted ability has been unable to flourish at times because of injury, particularly in the last two seasons.

Another to have broken through at a young age, Pato made waves with Internacional as he helped his side claim their first ever Recopa Sudamericana title.

A big money move to AC Milan followed and he helped the Rossoneri claim the Serie A title in 2011, but he has recently suffered a spate of injuries. Last year Pato reportedly came close to leaving the San Siro before opting to stay put.

Rivaldo, Palmeiras to Deportivo La Coruna, undisclosed (1996)

While Rivaldo made the move to a major European league, he appeared to have roughly followed the same path as most Brazilian exports by joining a club just below the elite in order to prepare himself for a move to the big time.

The brilliantly-talented playmaker took to life in La Liga like a duck to water, scoring 21 goals in 41 games in his solitary season with the club. A move to Barcelona followed in 1997.

Roberto Carlos, Palmeiras to Inter Milan, undisclosed (1995)

An undoubted success story in what can be done when moving straight from Brazil to a major European side, Roberto Carlos left Brazil having won two consecutive titles with Palmeiras in 1995.

Despite that he didn’t exactly hit it straight off in Italy and in fact struggled to adapt under now-England boss Roy Hodgson.

The Englishman wanted Carlos to adapt his game to play as a forward, something he was reluctant to do. A move to Real Madrid soon followed and the rest is history.

Robinho, Sao Paulo to Real Madrid, €24 million (2005)

For a man with his talents and for a man who has commanded such vast transfer fees, Robinho’s time in Europe has been far from successful.

Picked out by Pele no less to be the next great Santos player, Real Madrid liked what they saw and paid €24 million for his services in 2005.

His time in Madrid would prove to be the most fruitful of his European years as he became the club’s third highest scorer behind Raul and Ruud van Nistelrooy in his time at the Bernabeu. However the promise of a new contract at Madrid never materialised and he eventually signed for Manchester City where he appeared for the most part uninterested.

He returned to Santos on loan in 2010 before signing for AC Milan where he appears to have found solid, if not spectacular form.

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