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Brazilian soccer clubs flexing new financial muscle

Star striker Carlos Tevez's transfer from Manchester City to Corinthians in São Paulo, unthinkable 10 years ago, is now a real possibility thanks to the strong real and Brazilian teams' new business professionalism.

By Andrew DownieCorrespondent / July 19, 2011



São Paulo, Brazil

Forget iron ore or soy beans. For most of the past decade, football players have arguably been Brazil’s most visible export.

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That, though, is starting to change thanks to the strength of the Brazilian currency and the new wave of hard-nosed business people running Brazilian clubs.

This week, Carlos Tevez, an Argentine soccer star rated one of the best players in Europe, is doing the unthinkable and negotiating a transfer from his English club, Manchester City, to Corinthians, São Paulo’s best supported club.

It marks the first time a non-Brazilian star at the height of his career is considering leaving behind the glamour of Europe’s big leagues to return to South America.

Tevez is a distinct case because he wants to be closer to his family in Argentina. And he has already enjoyed one successful spell with the Corinthians club.

But the move is only even being discussed because Brazil’s currency, the real, is at its strongest level against the dollar since 1999. That means everything from iPads to jeans to tomatoes cost a fortune. (A study released last week by the Mercer business consultancy rated São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro as more expensive cities for expats to live in than New York or London.)

Most importantly for South American soccer players, it means Brazilian clubs can rival European salaries. Several top stars have been lured home by the powerful real in recent years, including former World Cup winners Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos to Corinthians and Ronaldinho Gaucho to Flamengo.

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