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 By Tim Vickery

Kaka has stolen the spotlight, but Romulo's Brazil call-up is salient

Romulo could well be the missing link that Brazil craves.

The headlines have gone to the late call-up of Kaka -- recalled to the Brazil squad for the coming games against Argentina and Japan after Cruzeiro's Ricardo Goulart pulled out injured. But in the long term, another 11th-hour inclusion in coach Dunga's list could prove more important.

At the age of 32 and with a lengthy history of injuries, Kaka's long-term future with the national team is clearly open to question. His recall smacks of short-term expediency -- perhaps his experience will be of use as Brazil seek to rebuild after their World Cup humiliation.

- Vickery: Kaka call-up highlights Brazil's problems
- Duarte: Kaka a surprise choice, but he has a role to play

But the inclusion of Spartak Moscow midfielder Romulo might have greater ramifications.

Romulo has come in as a late replacement for Manchester City's Fernandinho, who has dropped out due to injury.

It is even possible that before long, Romulo and Fernandinho will be rivals and near neighbours.

The 24-year-old made his name with Vasco da Gama in Rio de Janeiro and appeared to a wider audience as part of Brazil's Olympic team which won the silver medal in the 2012 London Olympics.

As a warm-up for the tournament, Brazil played a friendly against the Great British team. So impressive was his performance that leading English clubs expressed an interest -- only to be disappointed to find out he had just signed for Spartak Moscow.

Romulo made an impressive start to his Russian career but then suffered a serious knee injury which kept him out of action for a year. Liverpool, though, are rumoured to be tracking the player on his recovery -- which would be entirely understandable. He has the versatility and the pass-and-move game that would fit in well to the Brendan Rodgers philosophy.

Romulo attracted the interest of Liverpool with some strong performances at the 2012 London Olympics.

Back in 2011, while he was still with Vasco, I praised Romulo on Brazilian TV. The next day his then-coach, whom I have never met, phoned me to reinforce my comments. Romulo, he said, was a joy to work with and a terrific player, the midfield heartbeat of the side, adept at breaking up opposition attacks and also with the engine and the range of passing to supply fluidity to the team in possession.

These are the very virtues which have been lacking over recent years in the Brazilian national team. As 1970 great Tostao, the wisest voice in the local media, has argued repeatedly, Brazilian football suffers from the separation of the midfield into specialist defenders and specialist attackers, a way of thinking about the game which started to creep into their game some 30 years ago.

It has now left Brazilian football looking dated. The best teams in the world have central midfielders who are all-rounders, giving them options of playing through the pitch. In comparison, Brazil have been looking very laboured.

Romulo, perhaps, could help bridge that gap. If he has made a full recovery from his knee injury, then he might be able to ease the task of Neymar and co by ensuring that the ball reaches them in areas of the pitch from which they can do most damage.

Tim Vickery covers South American football for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @Tim_Vickery.


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