As Manchester United fans await the arrival of Brazilian Casemiro from Real Madrid, we look at those who came before him – and how they fared.
Where is he now? Retired
The first of the Samba Stars to arrive at Old Trafford, Kleberson’s career peaked before he had even landed in England. A year earlier, the midfielder had been a part of the Brazil national team that won the FIFA World Cup in South Korea and Japan. His performances at the tournament, coupled with those back in his native Brazil for Atletico Paranaense, brought interest from Europe, and he shunned the likes of Newcastle United and Barcelona to sign for Manchester United in August 2003.
Injured in just his second appearance for the club, Kleberson made 16 appearances in his first season, 14 in his second, and left for Turkey before the third.
Where is he now? Retired
Perhaps the most successful Brazilian to play for Manchester United, which tells you something about how low the bar has been set at Old Trafford. Anderson arrived in Manchester in July 2007 with a big price tag (30 million euros) and an even bigger reputation. A year-and-a-half into his tenure, the midfielder had won the Premier League, the UEFA Champions League, and individually, the 2008 Golden Boy Award.
But, a string of issues, from poor work rate and attitude to being deployed in unfamiliar roles, hampered the Brazilian’s progress. His appearances for the Red Devils waned as the seasons progressed, and after a loan spell in 2014 at Italian side Fiorentina, he left the club permanently for his native Brazil.
#3 Rodrigo Possebon
Where is he now? Retired
From best to worst! Manchester United thought they had pulled off a coup with the signing of a talented youngster by the name of Rodrigo Possebon from Internacional, his club growing up. Big things were expected from the central midfielder, but Possebon failed to deliver as per his potential; he made just three appearances for the Red Devils before becoming somewhat of a journeyman for the remainder of an otherwise forgettable career.
Possebon appeared for a carousel of clubs featuring the likes of Braga, Santos, Mirassol, Juventude, URT, and Ho Chi Minh City. He also gave up his Brazilian ancestry and switched allegiances to Italy, making one appearance for the U20 side.
#4 Fabio da Silva
Where is he now? Nantes
Like Possebon, Fabio (and his brother Rafael) landed in Manchester without ever making their professional debut. The full-back was spotted by Manchester United scouts in Hong Kong during the 2005 Nike Premier Cup and, despite reported attempts from Arsenal to steal the double deal, he and his brother signed for the Red Devils in 2008.
Fabio failed to have the same impact on Manchester United as his brother. His 56 appearances over four years were scattered across competitions; his best tally during that time stood at a measly 25 in a campaign, mainly due to the presence of Patrice Evra.
#5 Rafael da Silva
Where is he now? Botafogo
The more successful of the Da Silva twins and a contender for the most successful Brazilian to play for Manchester United alongside Anderson, right-back Rafael benefitted from Gary Neville’s retirement in 2011 and made 170 appearances for the Red Devils over seven years. His career in England peaked in the 2012/13 season when he made 40 appearances – his most for the club in a single campaign – and scored three goals.
Rafael left Manchester United in the summer of 2015 with three Premier League titles and multiple domestic and continental trophies in his cabinet to join Lyon. A five-year spell with Lyon was followed by a transfer to Istanbul Basaksehir and later Botafogo, the club he and his brother supported as kids in Brazil.
#6 Andreas Pereira
Where is he now? Fulham
Belgium-born Andreas Pereira joined Manchester United as a scholar from Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven in 2011, rejecting interest from Premier League rivals Chelsea, Liverpool, and Arsenal to sign for the club. The attacking midfielder impressed for the youth teams, made sporadic appearances in his first two professional seasons for the club, and spent two years on loan in Spain with Granada and Valencia, respectively.
Pereira became a bit-part player for Manchester United under Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer between 2018 and 2020. Failing to establish himself as a starter, he left for Lazio and later Flamengo on year-long loan spells before signing for Fulham permanently in the summer of 2022.
#7 Alex Telles
Where is he now? Sevilla (loan)
Manchester United fans believed the club had pulled off a coup by signing Alex Telles for a low fee in 2020 from FC Porto. For five years, the Brazilian had been the best full-back the Portuguese league had to offer, marauding down the wing with confidence, whipping in teasing crosses from the left, and chipping in with the occasional goal – he scored 13 in 49 in his final season with Porto.
Instead, the player the Red Devils received in exchange for nearly 16 million pounds was a shadow of his former self. Lacking in conviction going forward and steel going backward, the club decided to stick with Luke Shaw and later compliment him by signing Tyrell Malacia to shore up the left side of their defense. Additionally, they sent the Brazilian to Sevilla for the 2022/23 season.
Where is he now? Manchester United
Manchester United beat rivals Manchester City to sign Fred from Shakhtar Donetsk in the summer of 2018 – and yet Manchester City were the ones who had the last laugh. The Red Devils paid almost 50 million pounds for the central midfielder on whom the jury is yet to reach a verdict. Fred has shown flashes of brilliance, and perhaps it is the failure of the club to provide a suitable system that would’ve allowed the Brazilian to flourish that he hasn’t done so consistently.
Regardless, given the current lament of the club, Fred is seen as one of the problems at Manchester United rather than a solution. Perhaps the arrival of countryman Casemiro could fix that?