Since taking the reins of the Brazilian national team from Dunga in July, Mano Menezes has shown himself to be willing to give young players a chance with A Seleção, more than happy to encourage the development of emerging Brazil-based players at the very highest level. This policy is reflected in the latest Brazil squad, with the likes of Neto, Réver and Jucilei all called up to face Argentina in Doha on 17th November.However, arguably the most surprising inclusion is that of Douglas, Grêmio’s uncapped 28 year-old attacking midfielder. To many European observers it may seem as though the player has materialised from nowhere, finding himself in the unusual position of preparing to make his international debut just two years shy of his 30th birthday. So, who is Douglas and how has he come to emerge so suddenly on the senior international stage?
Having begun his career with Criciúma in Santa Catarina, Douglas stayed with his hometown club for three years making a favourable impression during his 138 appearances, gaining a move to Turkish side Çaykur Rizespor in 2005. However, the playmaker’s career stalled in Europe as he made just a dozen starts in his only season in Turkey, quickly returning to Criciúma for another year as his career entered the doldrums.
The midfielder got his career back on track with a transfer to São Caetano in 2006 and, despite the team suffering relegation to the Brazilian Série B, Douglas improved his reputation through some inventive creative play, his standing as one of Brazil’s emerging talents beginning to gain greater credence. A big move came about in 2008, Mano Menezes bringing him to Corinthians where he became an integral part of the team which went on to win both the Copa do Brasil and the Campeonato Paulista in 2009.
A brief but exceptionally well paid stint at Al Wasl in the United Arab Emirates followed, Douglas returning to Brazil with Grêmio at the turn of the year where he has performed at a high level thus far. The player has enjoyed an excellent run of form throughout much of the last two seasons and, with his former mentor now coaching the national side, this is as good a time as any for Douglas to try and make an impression in the green and yellow of Brazil.
Remarkably similar to Wolfsburg’s Diego in style and stature (both players stand at 5ft 9in), Douglas has impressive balance on the ball and a deceptive turn of speed which sees him beat the first man with great regularity. As good a distributor as he is runner with the ball, Douglas is a half-way house between the classical playmaker and the modern attacking midfielder and is thought to have matured greatly over the last two or three seasons.
He may have come late to the international fold, but Douglas will surely be looking to make up for lost time come November 17th.