15-year-old Endrick becomes Brazil's latest soccer sensation

·3 min read

MADRID (AP) — Playing in the final of an under-21 tournament for Brazilian club Palmeiras, 15-year-old Endrick collected the ball behind the midfield line and started to make a run toward goal.

He sped past a couple of defenders with ease. A third brought him down a few meters later, but Endrick quickly got up after a roll on the ground and continued with the ball.

A fourth defender had to come in to help, finally stopping him with a hard foul.

Endrick laid on the ground for a few moments with his arms outstretched as the crowd continued to cheer from the stands.

Endrick Felipe Moreira de Sousa is the latest Brazilian teen sensation, the next promising star attracting attention from European soccer.

The talented forward had already scored a goal in Tuesday’s 4-0 victory over Santos in the final of the Copa São Paulo, Brazil’s most traditional youth competition, and won the awards for best player and best goal — a beautiful bicycle kick from outside the area in the quarterfinals.

This week, Endrick was the main story on the front page of Spanish sports daily Marca, receiving more prominence than tennis great Rafael Nadal after one of his victories in the Australian Open. The newspaper said Real Madrid was the front-runner to try to sign him, though there were also talks about Barcelona and other top clubs wanting to join the race as well.

Endrick — who impresses with his strong runs, smart finishes and nifty ability to get around opponents — doesn’t even have a professional contract yet. He’ll only be able to sign one in Brazil when he turns 16 in July. A move to Europe will only be allowed by FIFA when he turns 18.

His path could be similar to the ones taken by other recent Brazilian promising stars such as Vinícius Júnior and Rodrygo, who secured early deals with Madrid as teenagers and then made the trip across the Atlantic after turning 18. The Spanish powerhouse paid nearly 45 million euros ($50.3 million) for each player.

Endrick, who moved to São Paulo with his family just to try his luck with Palmeiras, has the same people representing him as Vinícius.

His quick rise prompted calls by some Palmeiras fans to have him included in the squad that will play in the Club World Cup in February, but coach Abel Ferreira said it’s too early have him in the main team. He said “a trip to Disneyland” would be more appropriate for Endrick and his family at the moment.

“There is no rush. He’s only 15,” said Ferreira, the Portuguese coach who led Palmeiras to two straight Copa Libertadores titles since arriving in 2020. “With time I’m sure he’ll make it to the main team.”

Endrick said he agreed with the coach and doesn’t want to skip too many steps.

“I want to focus on playing in the youth squads for now,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll move up and I’ll have a whole new career ahead of me.”

European clubs are hopeful as well.

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