Why are the big clubs signing young Brazilian prospects ASAP?

What seemed dangerous at the time has become the norm ever since. In 2017, it seemed inconceivable that Real Madrid would pay €45m to sign a 16-year-old Brazilian who had not played a senior game for his club. In hindsight, it makes for an impressive piece of transportation work. Vinicius Jr He became one of the most dangerous attacking players on the planet, whose goal decided the Champions League final last season.

The deal looked like an anomaly six years ago, and the club’s reaction is still astute in sight Neymar He signed a contract with his rivals, Barcelona, ​​​​for 86.2 million euros a few years ago, and he was desperate to lose another Brazilian with exceptional potential. But this type of deal is becoming more and more popular. in 2019, Gabriel Martinelli Arsenal acquired him for 8 million euros from the small club Ituano in the suburbs of Sao Paulo, before approaching the Brazilian first division. And hardly a look was raised when Real Madrid signed another 16-year-old, Andrique, from Palmeiras, for a total fee of €72m last month.

Europe’s top clubs now want to sign South American talent as soon as possible – which means they’re all too willing to take a guess on potential alone. It’s a route Chelsea are now taking with the €20m signing of 18-year-old Vasco da Gama midfielder Andre Santos. While a less flashy player than Vinicius or Martinelli, Santos is a well-built midfielder – a position the Brazilians have found more difficult to adapt to European football than wide forwards. This is a large part of the explanation for signing players so early; For legal reasons, clubs have to wait until youths are 18 to bring them in, and the collective view is that the earlier they come, the better.

European football is faster and more intense, and this particularly affects midfielders because the ball moves across their area of ​​the pitch more quickly. There is less time for a player to decide what to do on the ball, and European clubs want their players to be exposed to this reality as quickly as possible. There is a clear model for Santos, and he is a model Douglas Lewis Aston Villa. Same position and with similar characteristics, they both made their names helping Vasco win promotion to Brazil’s top flight. Luiz played a handful of top-flight matches before Europe began to compete, while Santos moved straight from their recently completed second-tier campaign into the Premier League – and possibly into a loan move.

Luis signed for Manchester City in 2017, loaned out to Girona in Spain and then to Villa before making Birmingham his permanent home. There are drawbacks to this model of player development. The player leaves his home country at an age when many aspects of his life are in transition. Late adolescence can be complicated enough without going through it in another country and culture – and it could be even worse if a player is loaned out to clubs that have no long-term interest in his progression. But there are also obstacles to survival. Wait too long and the opportunity may never come.

This is the situation that Palmeiras had as a midfielder Danilo They are currently negotiating. A dynamic and left-footed man, Danilo has been an integral part of the Abel Ferreira-ridden Palmeiras team that won the Copa Libertadores in 2020 and 2021 and the Brazilian league last year. At the age of 21, he had done everything more or less in football for South American clubs. There is still a lot to come of it. However, a call-up to the Brazil national team in the middle of last year may have had a negative impact on him. He did not feature on the field against South Korea or Japan during two friendlies in the summer, and his form dropped after that. He was probably shocked at the required escalation between domestic and international football. But he remains an excellent player and a good prospect.

However, Palmeiras worries that at 22 he may not be the same as at 21. A few months ago, Arsenal seemed like a possible destination. Now, more modest Nottingham Forest is shaping up to be his next club, and Palmeiras would be happy to charge him a low €20m transfer fee. They’ve burned playing this game before, as it looks like they have a future superstar on the wing Gabriel Veronthe main name as Brazil won the U-17 World Cup 2019. Veron immediately looked home in the Palmeiras first team, but then injuries hit, there were some problems off the pitch and midway through last year he only netted a disappointing fee of €10m. from Porto.

Wesley was another winger who impressed the top European clubs; Palmeiras stuck with it but it didn’t develop as well as he had hoped. Earlier this month, at that dangerous age of 22, Brazilian team Cruzeiro signed him for just €3m.

It’s crucial, then, to get the motion timing right—which seems to mean an early transition. Flamengo, the Copa Libertadores champions, have become masters of this, learning from Vinicius’ experience, as well as parting early on with his ilk. Lucas Paqueta (West Ham United) and cleaner (Real Madrid, now on loan to Girona). It gives them the money to invest in players Europe doesn’t want – whether veterans looking to return home or fine performers who haven’t found space to shine on the other side of the Atlantic.

So Flamengo celebrates the imminent transfer of the combative midfielder Joao Gomez to Wolverhampton Wanderers. It will reportedly generate around €20 million. Gomez is 21 years old now, even if he has developed more as a player, his transfer value has dropped. More than reality, Brazilian clubs benefit from the promise.

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