TALLES Magno was a teenage sensation in Brazilian football.
Tall, two footed and with a touch of class, when he was holding his own in the Vasco da Gama first team at the age of 17 he gained the nickname ‘Talles Magico’ – Magic Talles.
Talles Magno has had an up-and-down season with New York CityCredit: Getty
Despite being a bit-part player, Brazil wonderkid Talles Magno’s season ended in a high with New York City winning the MLS CupCredit: Zuma Press
He is still a teenager – he turns 20 in June. But he was hardly a sensation in his first year in the United States. He now plays for New York City, and the year had a happy ending.
The team won its first MLS Cup, beating Portland Timbers on a shoot out after the game had finished 1-1. Talles Magno played his part. He scored his penalty.
But when he made the move north he expected to be much more than an extra time substitute. Back home for Christmas, he gave an interview to the Brazilian press that was admirable in its sincerity.
“A problem that I had was that I left Vasco with the idea that the MLS was not so strong – but it was totally different. The others were quicker than me. I had to improve on this.
“I left with the thought that I was going to start in the first team and be one of the best players, and the reality was all different. It was nothing like I’d thought, and that was a shock to me.”
But he was able to react. “I upped my focus three times more to get back on track in order to help the team, and in the end that’s what happened.”
There are many South Americans in the MLS, but Talles Magno concludes that “the style of play is more like Europe than Brazil. It’s quicker, the ball circulates faster, the game is more intense, more compact and with lots of physical contact.”
It is a fascinating point of view, which does much to explain recent trends in the global transfer market.
Not very long ago, the big European clubs would swoop for the outstanding players in the South American club game. After a team had won the Copa Libertadores, the continent’s Champions League, it was normal for them to lose their stars to the other side of the Atlantic.
Not any more. This year’s Libertadores final was an all-Brazilian affair between Palmeiras and Flamengo, the two previous winners of the competition.
The Flamengo line up was similar to the one which lifted the trophy in 2019, and the Palmeiras team was little changed from the 2020 win.
There were few youngsters on show – the average age was higher than in the Chelsea-Manchester City final of the Champions League.
This is easily explained. The big European clubs no longer have much interest in players based in South America who have passed the age of 22.
They think that a significant gap has opened up between the quality and the style of football on both sides of the Atlantic, and that a player in his mid 20s may not be able to adapt -or might not have the reaction of Talles Magno when they receive a reality shock.
The tale of Talles Magno is important. If he found it tough to adapt to Major League Soccer, how much tougher would he have found the Premier League?
But at his age, at least there is a chance. And that is why the European clubs want to pick up South American talent while it is still in formation – and the names thrown about in the January transfer window are more likely to be kids than established stars.
Talles Magno has found a move away from Brazil a challengeCredit: AFP
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