Among LaLiga’s most impressive rising stars is Brazilian right-back Emerson, who has just confirmed his long-awaited move to FC Barcelona from Real Betis.
Emerson may have only turned 22 last January, but with four goals and ten assists across the last two seasons in green and white, he has an excellent claim to be perhaps the most productive attack-minded defender in LaLiga Santander.
Born in Sao Paulo in January 1999, Emerson gained his first football education at local side Ponte Preta, before moving to giants Atletico Mineiro while still a teenager. Regular appearances in Brazil’s Serie A brought interest from many European clubs, and he made the leap to join Real Betis in January 2019.
Emerson was gradually introduced into the Real Betis first team set up by then coach Quique Setien, with one of his first three LaLiga starts coming in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of the city derby at Sevilla’s Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan. Having settled well in the Andalusian capital, and with a good pre-season behind him, Emerson was the automatic first choice right-back in time for the 2019/20 season.
He heads to Barcelona on the back of a stellar season with Real Betis. He was a key part of Manuel Pellegrini’s team which put together a remarkable 2021 – in which they lost just twice, to title challengers Barcelona and Sevilla – to finish sixth in style and bag a Europa League spot.
Emerson’s potential has also been quickly spotted by Brazil’s national teams. He featured regularly throughout 2019’s South American Under-20 championships and could well have represented his country at the 2020 Olympic Games in Japan but for postponement due to COVID-19. Already a senior international, he looks set to form a long-term partnership on either side of the Brazil back four with Atletico Madrid left-back Renan Lodi, who has also broken into the set-up at the same time.
The athletic and intelligent Emerson’s attack-minded contributions from right-back have brought to mind another Brazilian who first made his LaLiga mark in the Andalusian capital, and he now follows in Dani Alves’ footsteps by joining Barcelona this coming season. Given how he has settled in Spain so far, it would be no surprise to see the rising star becoming the starting right-back at the Camp Nou over the next decade.
Emerson’s first two seasons in LaLiga have been impressive, but don’t doubt that there is plenty still to come from one of LaLiga’s most talented and determined rising stars.