One of the intriguing questions raised by Mano Menezes's (Mano) roster for the upcoming Brazil v. USA friendly is the question of who will wear the famed number 10 jersey given Kaka's absence from the squad. In the last 20 years, the Brazilian number 10 jersey has traditionally been worn by a creative midfielder or playmaker who can also score goals. Alessandro Rivaldo wore the number 10 jersey at both the 1998 and 2002 World Cups, Ronaldinho did so in 2006 and Kaka wore the Brazilian number 10 shirt in South Africa 2010. Rai, another creative midfielder and younger brother of the legendary player Socrates, wore the number 10 shirt at the 1990 World Cup in the era before it had been designated for a pure striker such as Zico in 1982 and 1986. But the bottom line is, anytime you give the number 10 shirt to a Brazilian player, watch out.
Mano's squad leaves plenty of room for speculation, however, given that his midfield selection contains no players from Dunga's World Cup team with the exception of the 23 year old Ramires. Ramires has hardly earned the right to wear the number 10 shirt but the same could be said about any of the other midfielders, especially since the young sensation Paulo Henrique Ganso has yet to earn his first international cap.
One obvious choice would be to give the number 10 shirt to Robinho, and leave the number 9 shirt--traditionally reserved for a pure striker--to Alexander Pato. Part of this decision will depend on how Mano plans to play Robinho given that it's not yet clear whether Robinho will play the role of the lone striker or an attacking midfielder behind Pato, Andre or Neymar. Another option, for Mano, would be to return the number 10 shirt to a pure striker as a signal that the torch from Dunga has indeed been passed, and that Brazilian football under his direction has anchored its vision in the attacking, creative spirit of the Zico era of the early to mid 1980s.