Today both the Daily Mail and the Independent report that Manchester United have been linked with a swoop for Gremioâ€™s 18-year-old starlet Douglas Costa de Souza.
Alex Fergusonâ€™s frustration at losing Ronaldinho to Barcelona following the 2002 World Cup is well documented and it seems that ever since then the United manager has made it his business to ensure that the club does not lose out on another Brazilian superstar. Since, Fergie has developed an excellent South American scouting network which has been responsible for the arrival of the Da Silva twins and Rodrigo Posseban to Old Trafford.
Douglas has been touted in both his homeland and by the European press as the â€œnew Ronaldinho,â€ but such a label appears to be a misleading comparison. His slight physique and playing-style more closely resembles that of Robinho before he left Santos and developed a petulant streak.
Although predominantly left-footed, the forward has been mainly employed at Gremio as a right-winger. Douglas has shown a thirst for beating one man, then another and then another with his dazzling array of step-overs, tricks and flicks. He is also a dead-ball specialist and enjoys curling free-kicks into the goalkeeperâ€™s right hand corner.
What is amazing to watch is how he utilises his low centre of gravity to turn players who are clambering all over him and his ability to ride nasty challenges. He undoubtedly could be a superstar in the making (he has only made 10 appearances scoring 1 goal at domestic level).
As with every next big thing in South America all the big boys have been linked with his signature. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Liverpool and Inter Milan have all been touted as potential suitors. Florentino Perez and Jose Mourinho are known for their dislike of purchasing promising youngsters preferring to buy established stars who they donâ€™t need to develop, leaving the way clear for his departure to the Red Devils.
United fans should not see him as an immediate replacement for the irreplaceable Ronaldo, he will require a season or two to adapt to the rigours of the Premier League.
The Red Devils have been tracking the talented youngster for two years with Jaap Stam being sent to scout the player. Following positive reports from all who have watched him at domestic and Under-21 level, expect United not to be put off by his Â£21 million buy out clause.
Fergusonâ€™s track record in nurturing up and coming stars is probably the best in the world and if United do agree a fee, fully expect him to fulfill his potential and become a world great.
Video evidence of Douglas in action can be seen here.