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For many years, the Brazilian league has spun out some of the biggest names in football and it appears Lucas Paqueta could be joining the likes of Neymar, Oscar and Kaka on the list.

The two-time Brazilian international has been likened to former AC Milan and Real Madrid midfielder Kaka, having scored nine goals and recorded four assists across all competitions in 2018.

Paqueta’s name may be unfamiliar to those who do not pay particularly close attention to the Brasileirão or the Brazilian national team, but his performances for Flamengo are beginning to catch the eye of some of Europe’s top teams.

But what more is there to know of Paqueta and exactly why are European teams keeping their eye on the Brazilian?

Read on for all you need to know about Lucas Paqueta.

Who is Lucas Paqueta?

Paqueta, 21, has been with Flamengo since the age of 10 and was promoted to the first team nine years later after successes with the youth side.

He would make his debut in the 2016 Campeonato Carioca, a competition for teams based in Rio de Janeiro, as an 18-year-old but had to wait until May 2017 to make his Brasileirão debut in a brief cameo.

The midfielder has since played 88 times for Flamengo, scoring 17 goals and recording five assists across all competitions, building up a good relationship with current Real Madrid star Vinicius Junior.

His performances saw him selected to be one of twelve alternatives for Brazil’s World Cup squad and later resulted in a call-up for the roster to face the United States and El Salvador, making two substitute appearances.

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What position does Lucas Paqueta play?

In simple terms, Paqueta is a midfielder, but the Brazilian is so much more than that.

Across his 88 games for Flamengo since making his debut, Paqueta has played in no fewer than five different positions from the club, ranging for a deeper central midfielder, as well as being deployed on the wing.

But the Brazilian is arguably at his most comfortable playing in an attacking midfield position, where he can add to the attack but also get back to defend when his team requires it.

Exciting on the ball, Paqueta has made a bit of a name for himself for his ability to beat a marker, completing 44 take-ons so far this season, averaging 4.02 per 90 minutes. This is bettered only by Everton Ribeiro for Flamengo, with the winger completing 51 take-ons.

But Paqueta is not just a show-pony, beating players with no end product. The midfielder has created 32 chances so far, the third highest amount of any Flamengo player. That he is yet to record an assist, however, may say more about his team-mates finishing than the quality of his creativity.

This is furthered given Paqueta is Flamengo’s top league scorer on nine goals, four more than any other player.

Paqueta is also strong in the air, winning 95 aerial duels in the league this season, 29 more than his closest rival at Flamengo. Even more impressively, the duels have come at an average of 8.68 per 90.

Despite his advanced position, Paqueta is a keen tackler, having made 65 so far this season at an average of 5.94 per 90 minutes played. For Flamengo, only defensive midfielder Gustavo Cuellar (78) and full-back Rene (70) have made more tackles than Paqueta. The 21-year-old’s tackles have come from 128 attempts, second only to Cuellar (129) at Flamengo.

Paqueta also ranks highly for his interceptions among the Flamengo squad, with 25 and an average of 2.28 per 90, the fifth highest for the club this season.

Though there are still some things for the Brazilian to tidy up from his game, with the right coaching Paqueta’s hard-work ethic can see him become a seriously good player.

Which clubs want to sign Lucas Paqueta?

Paqueta’s playing style and young age has seen the Brazilian linked with a number of clubs in Europe’s top five leagues.

According to various reports, Manchester United, Liverpool, Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona, Juventus and AC Milan have all been keeping an eye on the 21-year-old with a view to bringing him to Europe but the latter are firm favourites for his signature.

Milan’s reported interest first came to light in September 2018, when Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio claimed the Rossoneri were one of the front-runners for the €50m-rated Brazilian.

These reports then took a huge step with Globo Esporte claiming Milan have, in fact, completed the signing of Paqueta for €35m pending a medical, with the 21-year-old moving to Italy in January and claiming the number 11 shirt.

However, the same publication (via Football Italia) did also claim that PSG had taken the lead previously in the quest to sign Paqueta, with Brazilian forward Neymar personally requesting the club sign his compatriot.

Is Lucas Paqueta the next Kaka?

It is a dangerous thing for Brazilian midfielders to be compared to Kaka, given hardly any are able to live up to the hype of a genuine great – Chelsea’s Lucas Piazon being a big failure.

But the comparisons between Kaka and Paqueta are currently more about his predicted career path, rather than applying pressure on his playing styles.

In 2003, a 21-year-old Kaka made the move from Brazilian side Sao Paulo to AC Milan to play in an attacking midfield position having outgrown the Brasileirão.

Kaka would go on to become one of Brazilian’s midfield legends at a young age, winning the 2007 Ballon d’Or thanks to his part in AC Milan’s Champions League final win.

Though the current AC Milan side are nowhere near the one which Kaka joined, with Gennaro Gattuso in charge of the Rossoneri, an exciting project looks to be underway.

Should Paqueta complete his move to Milan, the Brazilian should easily slot into one of the midfield roles in Gattuso’s 4-3-3, helping the likes of Hakan Calhanoglu, Gonzalo Higuain and Suso to push the Rossoneri up the league.

While it is certainly too early to compare Paqueta with Kaka, if the Flamengo man even makes half of the impact his compatriot did – prior to his injury problems, his career would have to be considered a success.

The post Who is Lucas Paqueta: the Brazilian wonderkid Milan want to make the next Kaka appeared first on Squawka News.

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