As the Brasileiro returned last week, it was quite fitting Brazil’s next young talent scored the first goal of the campaign.
Positioned in a dangerous area as he so often is, Endrick tapped home from close range before turning to the crowd pinching each corner of his shirt, letting them know he’s ready for not only the new campaign, but for the attention the world media has already put on him.
Angered by reports of him being branded the “new Pele”, Endrick’s world has completely changed since his move to La Liga was made official.
A glistening career as a Galactico awaits
On 15th December 2022, Real Madrid announced they had agreed to sign Palmeiras’ 16-year-old for around £50m. Endrick will join Real in July 2024 when he turns 18 but for now, he remains in Brazil hunting down more trophies.
Real Madrid, unsurprisingly, were not the only European club interested in Endrick’s signature, as the young prospect’s family was pictured at Chelsea’s training ground in Cobham before opting for a warmer climate in Spain.
Palmeiras president Leila Pereira: “This is the biggest negotiation in the history of Brazilian football. Real Madrid’s proposal is compatible with Endrick’s enormous talent and corresponds to the sporting and financial goals we have established since the beginning of negotiations.”
So why was there so much demand for Endrick?
Endrick’s eye-catching style
In his five years at youth level for Palmeiras, the Brazilian scored 165 goals in 169 games. In 2022, he scored seven in as many matches in the Copa Sao Paulo de Futebol Junior, leading the way as Palmeiras won the tournament and Endrick scooped the Player of the Tournament.
The striker possesses frightening pace and dribbling ability, making him a nightmare to defend when he isolates defenders.
His close control and skills to beat the opposition have made him a YouTube sensation, but his ability to find space in between centre back pairings is where he excels.
His unselfish nature makes him the perfect all-round player, and his confidence to receive the ball with his back to goal and transition the move into an attack is a joy to watch.
Left foot, right foot, headers and audacious bicycle kicks, you name it, we’ve seen it all already – which is rather frightening at the age of just 16.
With his current manager, Abel Ferreira, trying his best to nurture his young talent, the Portuguese coach has eased the 16-year-old into life at Palmeiras.
Having started the Supercopa Do Brasil final against Flamengo, in which he picked up another winner’s medal, 2023 has been the year Endrick has begun to taste regular first team football.
It took him a while to settle, in fact it was 13 games before he scored his first goals of the calendar year against Agua Santa in both legs of the Campeonato Paulista final. To follow those up with a goal in the first five minutes of the Brasileiro was exactly what he needed, repaying the faith shown in him by his manager to lead the line.
With 14 months left before he departs Sao Paulo for life in Madrid, Endrick could easily be distracted by what lies ahead, but this is an important time in his career as he continues to grow, both physically and mentally.
His goalscoring record at youth level speaks for itself, but it’s now time to see if Endrick can improve physically and adapt to regular first team football in a competitive league, domestic cup competitions and of course, the Libertadores.
This may be Endrick’s only chance to win the Libertadores if his career continues to project at the rate it’s expected, and he’ll be no doubt focused on winning the trophy for a club which has won two in the last three years.
Brazil are blessed with attacking pair
Endrick isn’t the only Brazilian striker in the spotlight at present. Athletico PR’s wonderkid, Vitor Roque, has yet to decide on his future but looks destined for a big European move himself in the summer. Barcelona, Arsenal and Chelsea all very publicly interested in the €40m prospect.
The 18-year-old started the Libertadores final last year and recently made his Brazilian national debut, something Endrick will want to experience in the near future.
Having represented the U16s, Endrick can follow Vitor Roque’s path in the next 18-24 months and regular time on the pitch for Palmeiras will only put him in a good position to achieve that. With Raphael Veiga and Rony making their debuts for Brazil last month, Endrick can lean on his current teammates to find out what it’s like to represent the national team in preparation before his time inevitably comes.
Odegaard’s transfer and Vinicius Junior’s success
One of the last eye-catching transfers Real Madrid made for a youngster which attracted so much media attention was a certain Martin Odegaard back in 2015. However, the Norwegian was brought to the club for €3m, a fraction of the price compared to Endrick’s. Within a month of his arrival, Odegaard was listed in Real’s first team’s Champions League squad before beginning his career with the reserve team, Castilla. Despite splitting his training with the first team and the reserves, Odegaard largely featured for Castilla making 58 appearances in two years, scoring five goals.
By 2017, the Norwegian had only made eight appearances for the club and the decision was made to loan him out to Dutch side Heerenveen for the year. Successive loan spells to Vitesse and Real Sociedad followed before he found his next permanent home in North London with Arsenal and his Real Madrid journey came to a disappointing end.
Odegaard received a high volume of media attention and pressure which Endrick will undoubtedly face – and already is having to deal with back in Brazil.
First team opportunities may be limited when he arrives in Madrid, although the Brazilian will be 18 when he makes the transition to La Liga and the progression, he makes in the next year will play a huge factor in what team his features in.
Yet with so much expectation and pressure playing for Real Madrid, Castilla may offer him a route into the first team, although minutes on the pitch in cup matches may ease Endrick into life in Madrid.
Odegaard’s career was deemed a failure by many media outlets, although his loan moves within Europe helped him adapt to the highest level in Europe and now proudly wears the captain armband for Arsenal, who are currently in a Premier League title race with Manchester City and Odegaard has been at the heart of it all.
However, I’m certainly not raining on Endrick’s parade here.
Let’s not forget Vinicius Junior’s growth at Real Madrid since his move from Flamengo in 2018, where he was presented with first team opportunities which allowed him to develop his game over several years, before becoming an integral player to today’s squad.
Vinicius Junior handled the pressure of playing for Real Madrid, took the early abuse on the chin and worked hard for his place in the team. He will no doubt play a key role for Endrick, both helping him settle into the city but also guiding him through tough periods.
The present and the not-so-distant future
There’s no doubting Endrick’s ability and the fact Real Madrid were keen to spend big on the youngster indicates he has a huge life changing career ahead of him.
However, with the world now watching intently, his remaining 14 months at Palmeiras may not be as enjoyable as they once were. Every performance is now being analysed, while the media continues to feed on writing headlines if he fails to deliver.
Yet with a fantastic man manager in Abel Ferreira looking after him, Palmeiras and their coaching staff have their part to play in nurturing Endrick and making sure his skin is that little bit thicker when he boards the flight to Madrid.
We could be blessed with one of the next best strikers of our next generation, but only if he is supported in his most vital years.