Roughly 9000 kilometers away from the bustle of London, all eyes at the Maracanã are on a 17-year-old Flamengo attacking midfielder who is dazzling the crowd present at the famous stadium. His name is Reinier Jesus, and he is the latest Brazilian superstar in the making, soon to be part of the newest generation of talents making their way across the Atlantic. Chelsea, of course, have been mentioned already as a potential destination.
Non solo gli occhi dell'#Inter sul craque brasiliano #Reinier (2002): il gioiello del #Flamengo piace tanto per l'estate anche a #RealMadrid e #Chelsea, che hanno già avviato i contatti con gli agenti Giuliano Bertolucci e Kia Joorabchian (intermediario). #calciomercato— Nicolò Schira (@NicoSchira) November 4, 2019
Real Madrid’s Rodrygo Goes scored a Champions League hat-trick against Galatasaray. Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli, with 7 goals in 9 appearances, has been a bright spark in an otherwise lackadaisical season. With the hyper-competitive football market reaching prices hitherto unheard of, clubs are not only spending bigger than ever before, they’re looking to spend earlier than even before. While there is a huge risk in this model, the risk/reward ratio is good enough. With the likes of Harry Maguire commanding prices of £80m, ‘investing into the future’ seems like the better and more sustainable modus operandi. The likes of Vinicius Junior, Rodrygo Goes, Joao Pedro, Paulinho have all moved to Europe at an early age and this trend will most likely extrapolate into the future.
The combination of Chelsea’s new-found trust in youth as well as plentiful funds in the bank to make an impact should easily allow the club to make such “luxury” signings as well — signings who may not necessarily make an immediate impact despite high prices, such as the aforementioned Vinicius or Rodrygo, or even Kylian Mbappé for that matter.
So, Reinier Jesus, who has been mesmerizing crowds in the Brazilian Serie A since his debut in August, seems to be buying a ticket for the Brazil-to-Europe train already. An attacking midfielder or secondary striker by trade, Reinier’s ability to play off the main striker and link up with other players in his free role, including the wide wingers, is what sets him apart. He does most of the things well that an attacking midfielder is supposed to — passing, creativity, ball control — but his strong physique along with his height (1.85 metres) means that he can be also deployed as a false-9 and wreak havoc between the lines and further forward.
Reinier’s best qualities are his off-the-ball movements and his ability to find space in the final third. He takes up positions very similar to Mason Mount, although Reinier’s physicality means he is better at holding up the ball. Like Mount, Reinier is also extremely efficient at moving the ball into the final third quickly while acting as a conduit between the team’s midfield and attack.
The competition for Reinier is stiff. Major heavyweights like Real Madrid, PSG, Inter Milan (who will attempt to use Gabriel ‘Gabigol’ Barbosa as a makeweight) are all in the running. He turns 18 in January, at which point he will be free to move in FIFA’s eyes as well, though that move may require as much as €70m, which is apparently his release clause. Working in Chelsea’s favour could be the involvement of friendly agents Kia Joorabchian and Guiliano Bertolucci, two familiar names when it comes to Brazilian players.
Whether it’s Reinier or Jadon Sancho or some other young name from among the very best, Chelsea could be back to mix it up with the headline-makers in the transfer market. And that would be very exciting, indeed. After all, you can never have too much talent.