LONDON - The Olympic football tournament hasn't started yet but news of top European clubs trying to reach deals with young Brazilian players is already leaking out of London.
Promising playmaker Oscar is close to announcing a deal with Chelsea. Star forward Lucas is about to make a move to Manchester United. There's also talk about transfers by Brazilian striker Leandro Damiao and playmaker Paulo Henrique Ganso.
The Olympic tournament is played mostly with under-23 squads, giving young footballers a great opportunity to display their talent on a big stage and improve their chances of a multimillion dollar deal with a top club.
But this time Brazil is bringing some of its top players to the tournament, many who have already shown their potential and are already playing in top clubs. And the few who are still playing in Brazil apparently seem set on be making their move even before the games' football tournament begins on Wednesday.
Oscar, who will be wearing the No. 10 jersey when Brazil begins its quest for its first Olympic gold medal in football, is expected to seal a transfer to European champion Chelsea in the next few days.
The player admitted recently that he met with Chelsea doctors after arriving with Brazil in England and confirmed that the English club is negotiating with his current Brazilian team, Internacional.
"There is a negotiation, but my agent is the one dealing with this, I don't have any details," the 20-year-old Oscar said Monday at Brazil's training camp just outside London. "If I do end up going to Chelsea, it would be a dream come true for me."
Internacional club directors have said the negotiations are advanced and only minor details were pending. Brazilian media reported the deal could be worth nearly $40 million.
Oscar, who appeared as a promising star while playing for Sao Paulo, scored all three Brazil goals in the 3-2 victory over Portugal in the Under-20 World Cup final last year. He became a starter in coach Mano Menezes' Olympic squad after good performances in Brazil's friendlies played before the team came to London.
Lucas is another Brazilian player whose move to a top European club is imminent, and English media has reported that Manchester United has already reached a deal to sign the Sao Paulo forward, also for nearly $40 million.
The player's agent, Wagner Ribeiro, dismissed back home in Brazil the news that Lucas had signed with the English club. However Manchester United coach Alex Ferguson reportedly admitted that the club was interested in acquiring the 19-year-old Brazilian.
Lucas has been touted as one of the top players coming out of Brazilian football recently. He started making headlines almost at the same time as Neymar, who is Brazil's top star and the player expected to lead Brazil to the gold medal in London and then to the 2014 World Cup title at home.
There were plenty of rumours about Neymar's possible move to Europe in previous years, but the talks about his future virtually ceased after Neymar said sometime ago that he was staying with Brazilian club Santos until after the 2014 World Cup. The 20-year-old Neymar had already rejected an offer from Chelsea, and there had been reports of previous negotiations with both Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Neymar's teammate at Santos, 22-year-old playmaker Paulo Henrique Ganso, has been linked to a move to Inter Milan recently, while striker Leandro Damiao reportedly is also considering a few offers from teams in Europe.
Even those who have already left Brazilian football are in the middle of negotiations heading into the Olympics. Striker Hulk is one of them, reportedly about to leave FC Porto to Chelsea.
"My future is in God's hands," he said. "I'm very focused here, to give my best at these Olympics to become champions."
Defender Thiago Silva, one of Brazil's over-23 players along with Hulk and Real Madrid left back Marcelo, settled his situation a few days ago, transferring from AC Milan to Paris Saint-Germain.
Some of the players in Brazil's Olympic squad who are already playing in Europe include Alexandre Pato with AC Milan, Rafael with Manchester United, Juan with Inter Milan, Alex Sandro and Danilo with FC Porto and Sandro with Tottenham. Another young promising star, defensive midfielder Romulo, has just moved from Vasco da Gama to Spartak Moscow.
The Olympic tournament is the only significant football competition Brazil hasn't won. The five-time World Cup champions won the Olympic silver in 1984 and 1988 and the bronze in 1996 and 2008.
Brazil will debut against Egypt on July 26 at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, then will play Belarus at Old Trafford on July 29 and New Zealand in Newcastle on Aug. 1.
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