In 2008, Brazil sold 1,176 footballers abroad, highlighting the country's long-time status as an exporter of talent.
Yet that is changing, with Neymar's lucrative new contract with Santos showing that Brazilian clubs are increasingly able to resist overtures from European clubs for their best prospects and pay their domestic stars handsomely.
Ronaldinho at Flamengo, Deco and Fred at Fluminense, Adriano at Corinthians are just some of the star names taking after-tax salaries of £3 million (Dh17.1m) or more. Ronaldo's take from Corinthians until his February retirement is said to have been £6m net.
And it is not just returning stars cashing in. On Neymar's last contract, club and player split his commercial income. As a result, Santos paid just 10 per cent of the teenager's wages.
If the use of corporate-subsidised salaries is aided by Brazil's lax attitude to image rights and income-tax rates that top out at just 27.5 per cent, that is not an indication of strained revenues at the clubs.
The Globo television network recently negotiated deals with Brazilian Championship sides worth Reais900m (Dh1.85 billion) a season from 2012 until 2015.
While most top-division clubs doubled their income from the sale of television, internet, mobile and international broadcast rights, Globo's guileful encouragement of individual bargaining - preventing an auction against competing networks - delivered still grander gains to Brazil's best-supported sides.
Corinthians and Flamengo trebled their Brasileirao rights revenue to £36.75m each a season, more than seven English clubs earned from 2009/10 Premier League broadcast payments.
"What's happening is that a guy like Neymar doesn't need to go to Europe at 17, he can choose to leave when he's in his 20s," says Julio Gomes Filho of ESPN Brasil.