At the time, what appeared risky has now become the usual. When Real Madrid paid €45 million to recruit a 16-year-old Brazilian who had never featured in a senior match for his club, it was hardly believable in 2017. It seems like a fantastic transfer of business in retrospect. One of the most dangerous offensive players on the globe, Vinicius Junior's goal last season sealed the Champions League final.
The transaction appeared unusual six years ago since it was the club's frantic attempt to avoid losing out on another Brazilian with outstanding potential after Neymar signed with rival Barcelona for €86.2 million a few years previously. However, deals of this nature are becoming increasingly typical. Before Gabriel Martinelli ever made it to the Brazilian first division in 2019, he was purchased by Arsenal for €8 million from Ituano, a minor club outside of Sao Paulo. When Real Madrid acquired another 16-year-old, Endrick, from Palmeiras last month for a total of €72 million, hardly a single eyebrow was raised.
The top European teams are now eager to recruit South American players as soon as possible, indicating that they are willing to take a chance on potential alone. With the €20 million acquisition of 18-year-old Vasco do Gama midfielder Andrey Santos, Chelsea are now traveling this path. Santos is a well-built box-to-box midfielder who, although being a less flashy player than Vinicius or Martinelli, has had a harder time adjusting to European football than wide forwards. The teams are required by law to wait until the young players reach 18 before bringing them over, but the general perception is that the sooner they arrive, the better. This is one of the major factors when it comes to signing youngsters.
Since the ball goes through their area of the field considerably more quickly in European football, central midfielders are particularly affected by the game's quicker pace and greater intensity. The European clubs want their youngsters to be exposed to this reality as soon as possible since there is less time for the player to determine what to do with the ball. Santos may clearly be compared to Douglas Luiz of Aston Villa as a model.
They both played the same position and shared comparable traits, and they both became well-known for aiding Vasco in gaining promotion to Brazil's top division. While Santos jumps directly from his just concluded second-division campaign to the Premier League — and likely to a loan move — Luiz spent a few games in the top division before Europe came knocking.
After being acquired by Manchester City in 2017, Luiz was loaned to Girona in Spain, followed by Villa, before settling down permanently in Birmingham. This player development paradigm has certain flaws. At a stage in his life when many factors are changing, the footballer is leaving his own nation. Without having to navigate late adolescence in a foreign nation and culture, things may become much more difficult. It can get worse if the player is loaned out to organizations that aren't long-term supporters of his development. Nevertheless, remaining stationary has its drawbacks as well. If you wait too long, you could never have the chance.
That is what Danilo, a midfielder for Palmeiras, and the team are now negotiating. Dynamic and left-footed, Danilo has been a vital member of Abel Ferreira's all-conquering Palmeiras team that won the Brazilian league and Copa Libertadores in the previous year. He has accomplished a lot in South American club football at the age of 21. There is yet a lot from him to come.
But he could have suffered because of a call-up to the Brazil national squad in the middle of last year. He missed two summer friendlies against South Korea and Japan due to injury, and his performance suffered as a result. He could have been taken aback by the transition needed between domestic and international football. He still has great potential and talent, though.
However, Palmeiras are worried that he could not be the same player he was at age 21. Time is running out. Arsenal appeared like a potential destination a few months ago. Now that Nottingham Forest, a more humble club, appears to be his next destination, Palmeiras will be content to accept a transfer price of €20 million. As winger Gabriel Veron, the crucial player as Brazil won the 2019 Under-17 World Cup, they appeared to have a potential superstar on their hands. However, they were burned playing this game before. Veron fit right in with the Palmeiras first squad right away, but he suffered from injuries, had some off-field issues, and only received a meager estimated sum of €10 million from Porto in the middle of last year.
Wesley was another winger attracting interest from top European teams. Palmeiras managed to hold onto him, although his development fell short of their expectations. At the risky age of 22, Cruzeiro, a Brazilian team, signed him earlier this month for just €3 million.
The timing of the move must be perfect, which appears to include an early transfer. Flamengo, the Copa Libertadores champions, have mastered this technique by drawing from Vinicius's wisdom and parting ways early with players like Lucas Paqueta (West Ham United) and Reinier (Real Madrid, now on loan at Girona). This enables them the money to make investments in players that Europe does not want, such as veterans who are trying to return home or talented players who have not been given the opportunity to succeed on the other side of the Atlantic.
Therefore, Flamengo is delighted that defensive midfielder Joao Gomes will soon join Wolverhampton Wanderers. It is expected to earn about €20 million. Age 21 is Gomes. Even if he had improved as a player after a year, his transfer value may have decreased. Brazilian clubs are profiting off promise much more so than from actuality.