Pitchside Europe

Who is teenager Marquinhos, the fifth most expensive defender in history?

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Despite having barely a season of professional football to his credit, 19-year-old Marquinhos has just become the fifth most expensive defender of all time following his 31.4 million euro (£27m) move from Roma to Paris Saint-Germain.

Even when taking into account PSG’s near limitless resources – this is a club who this week alone have also paid a French record £55.4m for Edinson Cavani and £13m for a young full-back in Lucas Digne – the fee paid for the young Brazilian seems extraordinary.

Marquinhos only moved to Roma for £3.2 million last summer but his value has increased tenfold after a stunning debut season in Serie A and he has become one of the globe's most promising defenders despite making only 44 senior appearances in his career.

As he embarks on his career with France's biggest club, where he will play alongside compatriot Thiago Silva at the heart of the PSG defence, we attempt to shed some light on a player who 12 months ago was a complete unknown, but is now weighed down by one of the biggest price tags ever placed on a defender.

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Marquinhos came of age in the youth academy at Corinthians and first won a call-up to the senior team in the 2011 pre-season. After dropping back down to help win the Copa Sao Paulo de Futebol Junior (Sao Paulo Junior Cup), he returned to the first team in time for their victorious Copa Libertadores campaign in 2012, watching from the bench as Corinthians defeated Boca Juniors over two legs to win South America's most prestigious continental competition.

Marquinhos initially joined Roma on loan in the summer of 2012 but that was soon converted into a permanent deal by the Giallorossi, who were quickly won over by the defender's compelling blend of pace, anticipation and intelligence - attributes which make him a very accomplished centre-back.

Indeed, Opta's stats for last season demonstrate that only three other teenagers in Europe's top five leagues enjoyed more minutes on the pitch last season than Marquinhos, who topped the table in Serie A. The stats below also demonstrate how key the defender was for Roma, leading the club's table for aerial duels and headed clearances, as well as making their second most interceptions.

(Click the graphic below to enlarge the stats tables)

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Marquinhos undoubtedly had a fine season for Roma, but the fact PSG have paid over €30m to bring him to Ligue 1 is astonishing nonetheless. As the list below demonstrates, that transfer fee makes Marquinhos the fifth most expensive defender in the history of football.

(Data taken from Transfermarkt; transfer fee is in euros, using the exchange rate at the time)

1. Rio Ferdinand from Leeds United to Manchester United in 2002 (46m euros)

2. Thiago Silva from AC Milan to Paris Saint-Germain in 2012 (42m euros)

3. Lilian Thuram from Parma to Juventus in 2001 (41.5m euros)

4. Dani Alves from Sevilla to Barcelona in 2008 (35.5 euros)

5. Marquinhos from Roma to Paris Saint-Germain in 2013 (31.4m euros)

So, what do people in Italy and France make of this blockbuster transfer? We got the low-down from our friends on the continent....

Mattia Fontana, Eurosport Italy

How did Roma come to sign Marquinhos?

Roma sporting director Walter Sabatini is a disaster when it becomes to managing and controlling a team, but he is one of the best in Italy in scouting new talents. When he was at Palermo, he was the one who signed Javier Pastore for 4.7m euros (£4m). Last year he made very strange transfers with Corinthians, buying three Brazilian defenders. The injury-prone Dodo, on a free transfer, and Castan for 5m euros (£4.3m) were the most important ones, while Marquinhos arrived just as a future prospect, having paid 3.7m (£3.2m). But a few injuries in defence and Zdenek Zeman’s enthusiasm for young talents helped him to play and to become the most consistent centre-back in Rome.

How did he perform in his only full season in professional football, and what kind of player is he?

He had a fantastic season right from the start. The Italian championship is not a top-level league any more and Roma’s defence was horrible last season. But he showed he has all the qualities needed for a centre-back at a top club. He’s very, very fast and he has great ball control. He seems reminiscent of a very young Thiago Silva, even if he is not as strong physically as the former AC Milan player.

Does the transfer fee seem realistic?

It is way too much money. But PSG and Monaco are used to paying a lot for players, and if Thiago Silva will stay in Paris, they will become one of the best centre-back pairings in the world. It could also be good news for Brazil ahead of the World Cup… (He is not crazy at all, like David Luiz is).

Maxime Dupuis, Eurosport France

PSG are known for spending big, but is this their biggest extravagance?

Marquinhos over 30m euros? Okay, but you can add to that the fact PSG paid 15m for another 19-year-old player. Wages? 250,000 euros per month. No international caps. Just 49 games in Ligue 1. A left-back, Lucas Digne. It means that Paris don’t care about money. That’s all. They can pay. So they do.

What are people in France making of the deal?

We are torn between amazement, jealousy (from fans from other teams) and a lot of excitement because it is new for us. We have a 'little championship' with young players who flee as soon as they can. You are used to seeing English clubs pay a lot (and more) for football players. Remember that Liverpool paid £35m for Andy Carroll. For us, though, it is totally new. If you had told a French fan in 2011 that in 2013 Falcao, Zlatan, Cavani, Thiago Silva, etc. would be in Ligue 1, he’d laugh at you.

Will he go straight into the starting XI?

He cost over 30 million euros. The answer is in the price.

Have PSG overpaid for Marquinhos? Can he become one of the great defenders? Let us know in the comments section below...

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