Meet Rodrygo, Santos' latest wonderkid who is on the way to Real Madrid

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The striker needed just a handful of games to convince the Blancos to part with €45 million - but can he live up to the likes of Neymar and Pele?

Lightning never strikes twice in the same place, the old adage goes. But the appearance of teenage prodigy Rodrygo at Santos shows that the Vila Belmiro side can still produce electric attacking talents on an incredibly regular basis. 

The 17-year-old is already preparing for a move to Real Madrid, who swooped to sign him from the club that produced Pele, Robinho and Neymar, for a whopping €45 million. Quick, agile, technically gifted and lethal in front of goal, the youngster has never felt the pressure despite being placed at the forefront of the Santos attack this term. 

Just like the teenage Neymar, Rodrygo is already used to being the focus of attention. He was just 10-years-old when he first arrived at Santos, after a short stint at rivals Sao Paulo. 

A year later he was captain and star of the Peixe's Under-11 team, showing such spectacular ability that he became the youngest player in history to sign a contract with sportswear giants Nike. 

Even Neymar, precocious like few others in modern football, had to wait until he turned 13 before the famous company took him under its wing. 

But in spite of all the hype, Rodrygo has managed to keep his feet firmly planted on the ground. That is perhaps thanks to father Eric, who slogged for years around the lower reaches of Brazil's vast football pyramid without reaching fame. It has not been easy, of course: since the age of 11 he has been tipped as a future Santos superstar, finishing as top scorer in every age group on the way to the first team. 

Like Neymar he excels with the ball at his feet, possessing exceptional dribbling skills. With remarkable maturity for a boy of his age, however, Rodrygo also has the intelligence to recognise when to take on the defender and when to open play up for his team-mates. 

Inside Santos the teenager is seen an old head on young shoulders, showing a maturity which took Neymar no few years to develop since he first burst onto the scene. 

Rodrygo only made his first-team debut at the end of 2017 and notched his first competitive goal for the club this year in a 2-1 win over Ponte Preta. Since then his ascendancy has been unstoppable, culminating in a brilliant first hat-trick at the expense of Vitoria just before the World Cup kicked off in June. 

Rodrygo Jean Tragodara Santos Real Garcilaso Copa Libertadores 24052018

Even a talent like Gabriel Barbosa, brought back to Santos after failing to follow through on early potential after a move to Inter, has been eclipsed by the young upstart. In 10 Serie A games, Rodrygo has notched five goals and added two assists playing as a second striker for the Peixe. In total, he has hit the net eight times in all competitions and in the process convinced Real Madrid to add him to their ranks. 

He is the second Brazilian talent to be snapped up for the Bernabeu in recent years, after Flamengo prodigy Vinicius also agreed a deal. Like his young rival, Rodrygo will stay in his home nation until he turns 18 and is eligible to move abroad, while the two clubs have agreed to leave him at Vila Belmiro until the middle of 2019 to allow him to continue developing his game under the watchful eye of his father and his boyhood club. 

There is still a long way to go for the youngster, but those who have seen him strut his stuff are in no doubt that Rodrygo has what it takes to follow Pele, Robinho and Neymar to become Santos' fourth 'lightning bolt'.

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