Kaio Jorge: Brazil's 'new Ronaldo' who Juventus want to sign

Kaio Jorge NXGN GFXGoal

The exodus of young Brazilian footballers to Europe's biggest and best clubs has been under way for the past three years, and is showing no sign of slowing down.

Vinicius Junior, Rodrygo and Reinier have all made their way to Real Madrid since a deal to take the former to Santiago Bernabeu was struck in 2017, and now other clubs are latching onto the fact the Selecao may be on the verge of another generation-defining clutch of players.

A number of those who won the 2019 Under-17 World Cup on home soil are set to cross the Atlantic in the not too distant future. Flying right-back Yan Couto is on the verge of joining Manchester City having been on Barcelona's radar, Golden Ball winner Gabriel Veron is coveted by Europe's top sides and now star striker Kaio Jorge is being eyed by one of the world's super-clubs.

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As reported by Goal, Juventus are showing an interest in the 18-year-old who has already equalled a record previously set by Neymar in Brazilian youth football and has been compared to the original Ronaldo for his pace and ability in front of goal.

Kaio was born into a footballing family, with his father, Jorge Ramos, a lower-league player in Brazil who was keen for his son to follow in his footsteps.

He began his education in the game playing futsal for Pernambuco-based club Nautico, where he developed a reputation for his prolific goalscoring record, before moving to rivals Sport Recife - a club with which his father had played for professionally.

Kaio gradually made the transition from the smaller indoor sports halls to the outdoor pitches - a move that was made easier by his occasional outings for his local Sunday league side in his hometown.

Realising elite opportunities in the north east of Brazil were limited to young footballers, he begged his parents to move south so he could pursue his dream. They agreed, and after almost joining Sao Paulo he opted to join Santos - a club that have made creating legendary footballers their speciality, with Pele, Neymar and Robinho all beginning life at Vila Belmiro.

Kaio Jorge GFXGetty/Goal

Stories claim that Santos' youth coaches decided just five minutes into Kaio's admission tests that they would enrol him into their academy, and he repaid their faith by firing them to numerous championship-winning seasons at age-group level.

“I remember when he was 11 years old, I was coaching him in a final," recalled Indio to Gazeta Esportiva, who coached Kaio when he first joined Santos. "We were playing Sao Paulo, drawing 1-1 and there was no way we could score.

"When we had a break, Kaio told me to ask the players to link up with him in the box: ‘pass it to me and I will score’. Then, on our first attack, he received the ball, turned and then made it 2-1, it was thrilling. We were champions, and he finished the State Championship as the top scorer."

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Five years on from that 2013 final, Kaio became the joint-youngest player to score in the Copa Sao Paulo - the most well-known youth football tournament in Brazil that is open to players aged up to 20. The forward was just 15 when coming off the bench to net against Alianca-CE and equal the record previously set by his childhood idol, Neymar.

Such a headline-grabbing achievement soon saw him capped by Brazil at youth level, though it was not until November that he truly broke out and proved himself to the wider public in his homeland.

No player at the most recent U-17 World Cup attempted more shots than Kaio's 28, with those efforts resulting in five goals - including a penalty against Mexico in the final - to see him finish third in the Golden Boot race as the Selecao lifted the trophy for the first time since 2003.

Kaio Jorge Santos 2019-20

Kaio's performances in the tournament came at the end of a campaign in which he has been frustrated by the lack of first-team opportunities offered to him by coach Jorge Sampaoli. Having made his professional debut in 2018 under former manager Cuca, he was limited to just three substitute appearances in 2019 under ex-Argentina boss Sampaoli.

That lack of game time flew in the face of the club's decision to tie him down to a contract that runs till 2021 and includes a €50 million (£45m/$56m) release clause. Fortunately, with Jesualdo Ferreira now in charge following Sampaoli's departure, senior appearances have been far more forthcoming.

Kaio repaid the faith being shown in him by scoring his first senior goal in dramatic fashion as he burst through the Defensa y Justicia defence to find the net four minutes from time to secure a 2-1 victory in the Copa Libertadores. Off came the teenager's shirt in celebration, with it not lost on those watching on just how similar the strike was to many Ronaldo scored in his illustrious career.

“I’m very glad for the goal, I’ve always dreamt of this moment," Kaio told a press conference after his match-winning moment. “I was anxious, every striker is eager to score. I was a little nervous, of course, I was trying to shoot from everywhere, but thank God I managed to score.”

Kaio knows he must continue getting his name on the scoresheet if Juventus are to turn their interest into a bid for one of South America's hottest young strikers, but if he does then European football will have yet another teenage Brazilian to get very excited about.