Vagner Love, Sport player during a match against Vila Nova-GO at the Onesio Brasileiro Alvarenga stadium for the Brazilian championship A 2023.

8 former Brazilian wonderkids we can’t believe are still playing in 2023: Wagner Love, Ganso…

James Young

Brazilian wonderkids always have a certain hype around them when they burst onto the scene.

The grainy highlights compilations in strange aspect ratios, Tim Vickery appearing on everything for two weeks to describe their entire family history, while clauses over third parties and image rights seem synonymous with the transfer window at this point.

Some are still strutting their trade though years on after their “Welcome to Manchester United” videos have dried up. We’ve taken a look back at eight one-time Brazilian wonderkids from back in the day and checked in on what they’re up to today.

Vagner Love

Remember him? Blue hair, great on FIFA, goal machine at CSKA Moscow in the Russian Premier League. He’s had an interesting career path since through a safari tour of various Super League projects.

After a brief return to Brazil with Flamengo and Palmerias, Love went back to CSKA for two more seasons before going to Shandong Luneng Taishan (me neither) in China, packed it in and went back to Corinthians for a year, then Monaco for 12 games and ended up in Turkey.

Four seasons there with Alanyaspor and Besiktas before going back to Corinthians for a year, Kazakhstan, Denmark and Brazil again but this time with Serie B side Sport Recife. I’ve got exhausted just writing that, hope he’s looking after that hair with some Vo5 or something. Must be if he still scored 11 goals last season at 39 years old. Thirty-nine!


If ever there was a player suited to the genre of Brazilian wonderkids it would be Ganso.

That big move to Europe never materialised in the way that it did for Alexandre Pato or Neymar. He finally left Sao Paulo in 2016 to go to Sevilla but after only 18 appearances and a loan move to Amiens, Ganso is back playing for Fluminense aged 34 and won the Copa Libertadores last week. Not a bad way to see out your career.


Still scaring people with his free kicks at 37, Hulk is currently at Atletico Mineiro in Brazil and scored a respectable 12 goals last season. An interesting detour via Japan took him to Porto where he got a four-month ban for fighting in the tunnel after losing to Benfica but made up for it by scoring 23 goals in the 2010-11 season. He also had to pay a €45,000 fine for assaulting two stewards, obviously.

Porto complained to UEFA when Manchester City fans sang “you’re not incredible”, an eventful spell it’s fair to say.

Zenit signed him for €60million in 2012 before a predictable spell in China came along with Shanghai SIPG and then he went full circle and boarded a plane back to Brazil, winning the Serie A title in 2021. He also made a return to the Brazil national squad that year, playing against Peru in a World Cup qualifier.


Yup, he’s still in China. An incredibly talented footballer who won the Premier League and Europa League with Chelsea is now into his seventh season with Shanghai Port.

He can tell himself two Chinese Super League titles doesn’t mean that he’s wasted his time there. It’s what he dreamed of winning as a kid growing up. At 32, time is running out for him to get a move back to Europe or anywhere. His great-grandkids have a lot to thank him for.

READ: The 10 highest-paid players in Chinese Super League history


Imagine going to play for Manchester United with your twin brother at 18. Sounds like something the creators of the Goal films would write. You can hear the mid 00’s indie tunes now, bit of Doves whilst he’s running down the Rochdale canal in his club trackies struggling to get over the language barrier.

Fabio wasn’t as successful as his brother Rafael, only making 22 appearances for United in six years but did start a Champions League final vs Barcelona in 2011. He ended up at that mad QPR side after before spells at Cardiff and Middlesbrough in the EFL. Four years followed at Nantes in Ligue 1 and now he’s back in Brazil with Gremio at 33. A fun career tour of post-industrial decline and some nice castles.


Dante may be more known for his performance in the 7-1 defeat to Germany in the semi-final of the 2014 World Cup but he’s still knocking about at 40 for Nice in Ligue 1 and has been playing there for eight seasons now.

Three Bundesliga titles with Bayern and a couple of DFB Pokals isn’t a bad haul to have. He’s also a cult hero at Borussia Mönchengladbach for helping them stay up in 2010. Just best not mention the 7-1 to him again, otherwise he’ll threaten to punch you as he reportedly did with Bayern team-mate Thomas Muller.


Only 31, Bernard is currently at Panathinaikos in the Greek Super League after spells with Shakhtar, Everton and a brief season with Sharjah in the UAE Pro League.

On an Instagram post in after leaving Everton in 2021, the winger wrote “Unfortunately you who support me and not those who appear here to spread the words of hate DON’T KNOW HALF of what happens behind the scenes, I wanted to be more clear but unfortunately TODAY I can’t.” His free kicks are almost as good as his use of capital letters.

Leandro Damiao

If you thought Wagner Love had an interesting career path, Damiao’s takes it to another level. Getting a silver medal at the 2012 Olympics and making his name at Internacional, scoring 73 goals in 150 games and scoring bicycle kicks for fun, Damiao has had seven loan spells over the course of his career. Six being Brazilian clubs but then randomly one at Real Betis in 2016 (3 appearances, 0 goals).

He’s been in Japan ever since 2019, where he’s turned out for Kawasaki Frontale, even scoring 23 goals in the 2021 J League season before failing to hit the same form since. At 34, there are worse places to see out your career than having Tokyo on your doorstep.

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TRY A QUIZ: Can you name the top 25 Brazilian players with most Premier League appearances?