Only 178 players went from Brazil to UEFA clubs before the transfer window shut, fewer than in any year since FIFA began recording transfer data in 2011.
The majority went for free or on loan and clubs shelled out just $68 million (41.15 million pounds) for the remaining 30, barely one-third of last year’s outlay, according to figures provided by FIFA’s Transfer Matching System, the body that has been recording transfer data since 2010.
There was no big-name chase, as in recent years, when European giants fought over the signatures of Brazil-based players such as Neymar, Lucas Silva and Oscar. The biggest transfer this year was the reported 10 million euros Olympique Marseille paid for Botafogo’s 19-year-old centre back Doria.
“This is the worst market in the last 30 years for Brazilian clubs,” sports statistician and newspaper columnist Paulo Vinicius Coelho wrote in Sunday’s Folha de S. Paulo newspaper.
Experts have posited several reasons for the lack of interest.
With Brazilian football at a low ebb there are fewer talented players around. A humiliating World Cup in which few Brazilians shone under the global spotlight has perhaps caused European managers to question the wisdom of signing them.
Unrest in the Caucuses has also blocked a previously well-worn path for young Brazilians looking to get their first move to the Old World.
“The entry market for many Brazilians is Russia and the Ukraine, and those markets were problematic this year,” Marcos Motta, a lawyer for several players, including Neymar, Lucas and Doria, told Reuters.
“There are several other motives,” added Motta, who was in Zurich to complete the Doria signing. “If you look at the Brazilian league, there are not a lot of players who are attracting attention. There’s simply not a lot of good players around right now.”
Motta pointed out that several Brazilians moved within Europe for multi-million-pound fees this summer, with Diego Costa and Filipe Luis joining Chelsea from Spanish club Atletico Madrid and David Luiz departing Stamford Bridge for Paris St. Germain.
However, the lack of activity is especially notable because more Brazilian players have been bought or sold than any other nationality since FIFA started tracking transfers.
Some 5,526 Brazilians were traded internationally between January 2011 and the start of this transfer window, according to the Transfer Matching System.
That is more than twice the next most-traded nationality, Argentines.
Coelho said one notable advantage of the lack of activity is that the Brazilian league will suffer less. In past years, some clubs have fallen away in the second half of the season after losing their best players.
A bigger threat for the top clubs now are the full and under-21 international matches that will rob teams of key players over the next two weeks. League leaders Cruzeiro and fourth-placed Corinthians will each lose four, while Internacional will be missing three.
(Editing by Neville Dalton)