Opinion: Have Damião and Dedé left it too late to leave Brazil?
The age at which a player leaves for new footballing adventures can define their career, especially in a season which comes before a World Cup on Brazilian soil.
Plying their trade in Brazil always gives players a chance of being called up to the national team, but Luiz Felipe Scolari’s latest squad contains just four players from Brazilian sides, with the rest of the squad being European-based.
There’s always the argument that the Brazilian league needs to hang on to its best players in order to improve as a league and compete with the top European divisions in terms of global reputation.
And as we have seen recently with Neymar, Oscar, Paulinho, and Bernard, teams in Brazil can only hold on to their top talent for so long, as it still makes sense for players to leave for Europe both monetarily, and developmentally.
But Leandro Damião of Internacional and Cruzeiro's Dedé, who have the potential to be the Seleção's next stars, are now aged 24 and 25 respectively and could be hampering their development as players, as well as their chances of an international call-up by remaining in their homeland.
Interest from Abroad
Damião has been linked with Tottenham Hotspur in rececnt transfer windows, as well as Southampton and Liverpool, but no deal ever seems to move into the negotiations stage. Internacional may be putting too high a price tag on his head, but at the same time Damião seems happy enough to stay put.
Dedé is usually linked with any club looking for a centre-back, but since moving to Cruzeiro he has never really shown the form which won him so many admirers at Vasco da Gama.
His recent form could be summed up in the two games he has played during this past week. On Wednesday his mistake led straight to the goal which allowed Flamengo back into a Copa do Brasil tie, and then on Saturday he gave a goalscoring man-of-the-match performance in a 2-0 victory over Ponte Preta.
Obstacles to Selection
Given the fact that Brazil are searching for a reliable back-up to their current number nine, Fred, Damião has a great chance of proving he is that player this season.
Meanwhile, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Dante, Henrique (Palmeiras), and Réver (Atlético Mineiro) have all been called up to the national team more recently than Dedé, with a couple of young players such as Doría and Marquinhos also looking to push ahead of him in the pecking order.
Getting the Balance
There’s definitely a balance to be had when choosing the right moment to leave for Europe. Make the move too early and the player risks being cast into obscurity, and the Brazilian league also suffers as it never gets the chance to see enough of the players’ talent.
Should they hang around into their mid-20s, a player risks stagnation, demotivation, dips in form, and interest from top foreign clubs can wane as they start to look for younger and less costly players.
The worry is that Leandro Damião and Dedé may be leaving it too late. Over-familiarisation and complacency can begin to set in, meaning they will never improve or experience the diverse tactical disciplines on show in other leagues - which can be priceless when it comes to playing at international level.