News Live Scores

The Real deal - Madrid-bound Rodrygo is the NxGn ready for the big time

16:00 GMT 20/12/2018
Rodrygo Santos
The teenager was tipped for super-stardom since his 11th birthday and, after a standout season in Brazil, is showing signs he can live up to the bill

In any other circumstances, a €40 million transfer to Real Madrid of a teenager with just a handful of senior appearances would have sent shockwaves around the world.

But when, in June, Rodrygo Goes agreed his future switch from Santos, he did so in the context of another Brazilian teenager – Vinicius Junior, who had sealed a €45m move to the Spanish capital without even having played a single minute in men’s football.

Vinicius then spent the next six months adjusting to the rigours of the senior game, at first struggling to find in his feet in a new world. Rodrygo, then, was spared some of the fanfare, left alone to continue his rapid development at Santos. 

And anyway, Brazil’s latest “new Neymar” was used to hype. It had been more than six years since he became youngest player in history to sign a contract with sportswear giants Nike.

Rodygo would finish every season from then on as the leading scorer in his youth category at Santos and was increasingly tipped to be set for superstardom.

But, thankfully, there was little chance of it all going to his head. His father, Eric, had enjoyed a fairly nomadic career around lower echelons of Brazilian football and ensured his precocious son kept those talented feet firmly on the ground.

He has starred at Santos from the moment he made his first-team debut in November 2017. This year brought his first full season as a senior pro and Rodrygo delivered – and not only via dazzling highlight reels on YouTube.

The teenager hit eight goals for a Santos side that slumped to 10th place in the Brazilian top flight, completing a ninth-best 67 dribbles and creating an impressive 37 chances for his team-mates.

While Vinicius only just began establishing himself as a first-team player with Flamengo on the eve his departure for Madrid, Rodrygo is already a key player in Brazil.

"[Corinthians coach] Jair Ventura told me that he is like a veteran, that he's mature in decision making. He gets between the lines, holds the ball, changes direction, if they give him space, he dribbles,” said Brazil coach Tite.

“It's amazing how he makes decisions, his mental game is that of a player of 25.But he does not have physical strength yet. Vinicius does, although he's more individualistic. But he seems to have a good head, he knows how to listen and evolve."

And for now that evolution will continue with Santos, with Rodrygo himself rubbishing suggestions he will make an early exit for Madrid.

"I don't believe there is a chance I will leave for Madrid early," he Gazeta Esportiva. "It's agreed that I'm going in July.”

And that will provide him a chance to leave with a title under his belt. He was named the best newcomer in the prestigious Sao Paulo state championship last season as Corinthians took the crown. 

With five months continue his development in the fertile surroundings of a club that has become his home, Rodrygo will set sail for Madrid in June the Real deal.