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Rafael and Fabio

The new jewels

Cassio, Lucas, Alexandre Pato, Renato Augusto and the twins Rafael and Fabio are the most promising talents in Brazil. Who are they? Can they one day replace Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho?

Twin brothers Rafael and Fabio are already being touted as natural replacements for Cafu and Roberto Carlos. The two 16-year-olds – full names Rafael and Fabio Pereira da Silva – played at right back and left back respectively for Brazil at the South African U-17 Championship in Ecuador earlier this year.
The talented pair attracted the attention of Manchester United when they were playing for Fluminense in a tournament in Hong Kong in 2005. Rafael was considered the second-best player at the tournament. There are reports of an agreement with Manchester United to sign them at the age of 18 but Fluminense have been cagey and have not given any details.
Both players joined Fluminense’s youth division three years ago. Unusually for Brazilian footballers, they come from a middle-class background and live in Petropolis, situated in the mountains around 60 kilometres from central Rio de Janeiro.
Branco, who was Roberto Carlos’ predecessor as Brazilian left back and was in the World Cup winning team in 1994, is among their admirers. “They’re both very good, play great football, are well prepared and are going to be a sensation,” said Branco, who is now Fluminense’s technical director.