We’re about a year and a half removed from Neymar’s dazzling performance at the 2013 Confederations Cup, which saw the then-21-year-old score four goals in four matches to secure the Selecao their 4th pre-World Cup tournament title. Since then, the new number 10 for Brazil moved to Barcelona on a $74 million transfer fee and led the 2014 host country to the semifinals of the World Cup before a back injury ended his (and his country’s) run.
All of this is to say, a lot can happen in a year - which is where upcoming Brazilian star Anderson Talisca comes in.
While Neymar was introducing himself to the world at the Confederations Cup and in Barcelona, a 19-year-old Anderson Talsica was playing for Bahia, a top-tier team in Brazil. Coming on mostly as a substitute, Talisca scored 4 goals in 30 appearances. Then, right as the World Cup ended, the 6’2" attacking midfielder made a €4 million move to Benfica, becoming the highest paid move for a Bahia player. Now, only four months into the season, the Brazilian has scored 8 goals in 10 appearances and is a top target for Jose Mourinho at Chelsea along with the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United. What a difference a year makes.
A recent Instagram posting by Talisca shows him with "idol," teammate and, potentially, future Champions League competitior Neymar:
"Talisca is tall and left-footed like Rivaldo, so comparisons are normal. I haven’t followed him much at Benfica, but he has great quality. We are happy that he is with our group."
Those are the words of Chelsea/Brazil midfielder Oscar, after Brazilian manager Dunga called up Talisca to the Selecao. The Benfica star also has earned the nickname “Yaya Talisca” in reference to Manchester City stud Yaya Toure. But when you ask the now 20-year-old who he models his game after, he spits out an obvious name: Neymar. So, after 10 games of dominating the Primeira Liga in Portugal, the best clubs in England are all salivating over a player who has already garnered comparisons to Rivaldo, Yaya Toure, and Neymar. Yeah, seems like the next up and coming Brazilian star (but, to be fair, certainly not the only one).
Despite the allure of the Premier League, there is a case to be made that Talisca should stay in Portugal with Benfica. Perhaps the biggest reason is Jorge Jesus - Benfica's manager - who has a knack for developing talent. Former Chelsea defender David Luiz said he hopes Talisca can resist moving to Chelsea and the Premier League to spend more time with Jesus. “He [Talisca] had the good fortune to fall into the hands of Jorge Jesus. He's a coach that improves his players,” said Luiz. “Every year we see Benfica sell three or four players with six or seven others the subject of offers. Jorge Jesus empowers and teaches players though. Talisca still has plenty to learn and I'm sure he'll get better in the future."
Talisca’s height, long strides and cannon of a left foot are just some of the reasons the Premier League is calling. His best asset is his passing ability. His awareness and creativity to get his teammates the ball is spectacular. This year, his goal-scoring prowess is what sprung him onto the scene. The talented youngster has 17 goals in senior football in less than a calendar year, which is absurd for someone who isn’t even deemed a true striker. But once Talisca polishes the other areas of his game, his versatility will be off the charts.
Drama, however, waits for no man and it has already grown over Talisca - mostly stirred by comments made by Jose Mourinho. The Chelsea manager has said that Talisca would already be a star playing for a major Premier League club, if he had been granted a work permit this past summer. “I think Benfica hired well,” Mourinho said. “They say Talisca is unknown, but he is only so unknown because he's not playing in England because he doesn't have a work permit. If he had one, he would be here!”
Jorge Jesus responded to Mourinho, saying, “They knew as much about him as I know about D’Artagnan and the Three Musketeers.” Mourinho responded by taking shots at Jesus’s upbringing, but Talisca wasn’t bothered by the butting heads. “I’m happy such important coaches are talking about me,” he said. Well played kid.
Today, Calcio Mercato, a Metro reporter said that Jose Mourinho will offer £37 million ($58 million) for the Benfica star. But Steve Bates and Neil Mozley’s report from the Mirror says that Manchester United are now entering the race for Mourinho’s prized target. It may come down to Talisca's choice. It will be hard for a 20-year-old to deny the massive move (and paycheck) associated with the world’s most popular league, so perhaps a move to the Premier League is afterall imminent for Brazil’s new up-and-coming star.