New coach Tite used his first call-ups to reunite with a quartet of his former players as Taison, Paulinho, Giuliano and Fagner join the Selecao
On Monday new Brazil coach Tite announced his first squad since his June appointment.
After the highs of the Rio Olympics, it was back to business as the former Corinthians man confirmed the 23 players who would make up his senior team for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.
A number of changes were expected from the new man, who will lead the Selecao in a different direction from former coach Dunga.
Sitting outside the qualification places for Russia 2016, Tite leads his side into matches with Ecuador and Colombia desperate for points as Brazil look to recover from an underwhelming start to the marathon that is CONMEBOL World Cup qualification.
No less than seven gold medallists were named in the squad, which also featured a few new faces, as Tite turned back to some familiar names from his past.
The biggest surprise was the call-up of 28-year-old Shakhtar Donetsk forward Taison, who is yet to earn an international cap.
Tite worked with the dynamic, pacey wide forward at Internacional in the last decade, with a young Taison a substitute in Inter’s 2008 Copa Sudamericana victory. Indeed, it was Tite who spotted Taison’s talent and introduced him to the first team in Porto Alegre.
In 2009 Taison was introduced to the first team and scored 15 goals as Tite’s Inter claimed the local state championship, his performances so impressive that in some quarters he even began to earn comparisons to Lionel Messi.
Now in Ukraine, Taison hit six goals in 18 league games as Shakhtar finished runners-up to Dynamo Kiev for the second year running. With Douglas Costa unavailable due to injury, Taison could be asked to provide some pace to the attack in the absence of the Bayern Munich man.
Zenit midfielder Giuliano is back in the Brazil squad for the first time in four years.
Like Taison, Giuliano worked under TIte at Internacional, leading the club to the Copa Libertadores as he was crowned the best player of the tournament.
A mega-money move to Dnipro followed for the cerebral, speedy midfielder but after failing to make any real impression on the international scene, he returned home in 2012 to join Inter’s bitter local rivals Gremio.
After two fine seasons back in Brazil with Gremio, the 26-year-old midfielder moved back to Europe last month to join Zenit in Russia, ending a spell back in Porto Alegre that brought over 100 appearances for the club.
A South American champion at under-20 level, he captained the side to runners-up finish in the under-20 World Cup later that year. His last appearance at senior level arrived in 2012.
Few were more important to Tite’s Corinthians side that claimed Copa Libertadores and Club World Cup titles in 2012 than Paulinho.
The all-action midfielder came from nowhere to carve out a reputation as one of the best midfielders on the continent as a vital cog in Tite’s well-oiled Corinthians machine.
A big-money move to Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur never worked out for Paulinho but he still arrived at World Cup 2014 as an automatic selection in Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Brazil squad.
He has since reunited with Scolari, at Guangzhou Evergrande, in China, and has made the national team for the first time since the ‘7-1’.
Few had expected Paulinho to return to the international scene but he earned his call-up not only due to his credit in the bank from glories past. The midfielder recently impressed Tite’s son, who was sent to China this month to observe the Brazilians playing their trade in the CSL.
Paulinho has played a vital role in Scolari’s success in China, inspiring the club to a league title and Asian Champions League crown last year.
Fagner, 27, is hoping to make his senior team debut next month on the back of a fine 18 months for reigning Brazilian champions Corinthians.
Four years after leaving Vasco da Gama for an ultimately ill-fated spell in Germany with Wolfsburg, the former PSV man has rediscovered his form, prompting rumours of interest from reigning European champions Barcelona.
He’s a full-back very much in the Brazilian tradition, springing forward from deep to provide his side an added attacking threat in wide positions. He has also earned plaudits for maturing defensively since making a permanent return to his homeland last year.
Fagner formed a vital part of Tite’s Corinthians backline that conceded the fewest goals in Brazil as they romped to the national league title in 2015. He was on standby for a call-up to Dunga’s Copa America squad after a fitness scare for Dani Alves.