11 forgotten ballers you had no idea are now playing in Brazil: Payet, Marcelo, Hulk…

Former Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Real Madrid stars are among the 11 forgotten ballers we can’t believe are now playing in Brazil.

The Brazilian Serie A is always plenty of fun to keep up with. The league is packed with rising ballers and older stars of years gone by who are playing out the final years of their careers.

We’ve taken a closer look at the league and have found 11 players who we can’t believe are now doing the business in Brazil.

James Rodriguez

The Colombian playmaker has had an interesting few years to say the least. Following some short but sweet spells with, Everton, Al-Rayyan and Olympiacos, he now finds himself in Brazil.

Rodriguez was propelled into stardom following his heroics in the 2014 World Cup which happened to be held in Brazil. Now playing for Sao Paulo, he’ll be looking to rekindle that spark once again.


The 35-year-old has a trophy cabinet that most players can only dream of and even in his twilight years, he’s still as hungry as ever for silverware.

Since returning to Fluminense last year, Marcelo has already got his hands on three trophies by winning the Campeonato Carioca, Copa Libertadores and Recopa Sudamericana.

That winning mentality is still in his DnA.

Felipe Melo

Still going strong at 40 years of age, you’ve got to hand it to Melo. The holding midfielder started his professional career in 2001 and he’s still going strong to this day.

“I am still playing because I love the game, because I am disciplined and because I work hard,” Melo told reporters last year.

“I think I mirror the team. I am the role model. In football, different people can be role models, young players and more seasoned players. Being 40 years old means I am able to dismantle a game. My motivation is to bring home the bacon.”

Dimitri Payet

The French playmaker ending up at Vasco da Gama is very random, but we’re all here for it. After calling it quits on his time at Marseille, Payet decided it was time for a fresh challenge in the summer.

While the 37-year-old is no longer at the peak of his powers, he still knows how to deliver a killer set piece. In 28 appearances, the Frenchman has produced eight goal contributions so far. That’s not too shabby.


Best known for his bulky frame and explosive left foot, you’ll be pleased to know that Hulk is still doing the business for Atletico Mineiro today, aged 37.

Hulk do Atletico Mineiro, during the match between Atletico Mineiro and Flamengo

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Matheus Pereira

The streets won’t forget Pereira and his magical stint with West Brom. After leaving the Baggies, the Brazilian joined Saudi outfit Al-Hilal, although it didn’t take long until he was eyeing up the exit door.

Seemingly unhappy with his situation in Saudi Arabia, the 27-year-old has spent the last couple of seasons out on loan.

He’s currently on loan with Cruzeiro and it remains to be seen if the move will eventually be made permanent. We sure would love to see him back in England one day.

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Arguably one of the most underrated midfielders in Premier League history, Fernandinho is still going strong into his late thirties.

Upon leaving Man City, he re-joined boyhood club Atletico Paranaense, where he still plays to this day.

“Without a doubt, I am fulfilling a personal wish, a dream to wear the Athletico shirt again,” Fernandinho said upon re-joinnig Atletico Paranaense in 2022.

“We had numerous proposals, from several different clubs, from Brazil and abroad. But the most sensible decision was to return home and try to deliver my best here at Athletico now.”

Luiz Adriano

Remembered fondly from his time at Shakhtar Donetsk, these days you can find Adriano playing in his native country. He spent last season with Internacional and earlier this year made the switch to newly-promoted Vitoria.

“[The] expectation [is] to play as many games as possible, seek titles, as I have always done in my career, score many goals,” the 37-year-old said upon his arrival at Vitoria.

Diego Costa

We’d be lying if we said we didn’t miss Costa and his antics in the Premier League. Following a short stint with Wolves, the forward returned to Brazil in 2023 and he’s since played for Botafogo and now Gremio.

Still just 35 years old, we reckon he’s got a few more years left in him yet.

David Luiz

Undoubtedly one of football’s biggest characters, you’ll be pleased to know that Luiz is still going strong today at the ripe old age of 36.

Since joining Flamengo in 2021 he’s kept himself sharp and has racked up over 100 appearances for the Brazilian club. He’s also got his hands on three trophies since returning to Brazil.

Lucas Moura

After spending over a decade in Europe with PSG and Tottenham, Moura made an emotional return to Sao Paulo in 2023.

Since arriving back in Brazil, the 31-year-old has managed to get his hands on a couple of trophies as Sao Paulo won the Copa do Brasil and Supercopa do Brasil in quick succession.