REAL Madrid have stolen another march on the Premier League with their rapid snapping up of new €30 million playmaker Reinier Jesus from Brazilian club Flamengo.
Having first come to international notice with his displays for Brazil’s underage teams, Arsenal made initial contact with Reinier’s father all the way back in early 2019. Then Everton sporting director Marcel Brands attempted to set up a €40m deal last summer. And Manchester City reportedly offered an extra €1 million a year salary last week to persuade him to join them.
But the self-confessed Blancos boyhood fan has instead chosen to join Madrid on a contract up until June 2016, not the first time that the Bernabeu outfit’s history and resources have helped them win a complex transfer battle.
— Real Madrid C.F.⚽ (@realmadrid) January 20, 2020
“Real Madrid is the biggest club in the world and they've always had great squads,” Los Blancos' most expensive ever January signing told AS. “Ever since I was a boy, my dad always encouraged me to watch Real Madrid's games. I've been a madridista since the days of the Galacticos, when I was very little, and right the way up to the current generation who won four Champions Leagues.”
Snapping up the latest hot property on the Brazilian scene is another victory for Madrid’s hugely influential but publicity-shy head of international football Juni Calafat – following his personal involvement in the previous recruitment of Rodrygo Goes, Vinicius Junior, Takefusa Kubo, Fede Valverde, Martin Odegaard and many others all the way back to Casemiro in 2013.
Just like most of those other starlets, Reinier will first start out playing for Madrid’s Castilla youth team in the Segunda B third tier, under the guidance of club legend Raul Gonzalez. While also training and gaining experience day to day with Zinedine Zidane’s senior side. The chance to work with such legends is unsurprisingly another serious factor in kids choosing to move to the Bernabeu.
Reiner knows the stadium already – he visited back in March 2018 along with Brazil under-age teammates, as we know from his Instagram feed. Although all involved are claiming that the first firm Madrid contact about a move this winter came just last December, his father has admitted to meeting Blancos chiefs including director general Jose Angel Sanchez in early 2019.
At that point the family also visited facilities at Arsenal, City and Paris Saint-Germain – around the time he scored three goals in four goals at the Under-17 South American championships in Peru. Called the ‘great persuader’ in an ABC profile this week, Calafat was able to ensure that Madrid again got their man. Or kid, once he had turned 18, last Sunday January 19, to ensure compliance with FIFA rules.
And all the evidence points to Reinier being as good, or even better, a prospect as Vinicius and Rodrygo. He scored six times in his first 14 games for Flamengo’s senior team during Brazil’s Serie A 2019 season, and also saw some action during the Rio De Janeiro club’s successful Copa Libertadores campaign. He remained on the bench however as Liverpool beat Flamengo in the Club World Cup final last month.
The player Reinier apparently most resembles is former Madrid and Brazil Ballon D’Or winner Kaka. Although the new version is even better, according to his now former Flamengo teammate Felipe Luis.
“I remember Kaka because he played with his head up, and he was lethal in the area,” and ex-Atletico Madrid left-back Felipe Luis said this month. “Reinier has even more quality than Kaka with his back to goal. He has surprised me at 17 in that he always chooses the correct option. It really is a great signing, I congratulate Real Madrid. Time will tell whether or not he is like Kaka.”
Reinier’s father accepts the Kaka comparisons, calling his son “more of a midfielder than a forward”, and complaining that former coach Jorge Jesus played him too far forward for Flamengo. The dad Mauro Brasilia can talk from at least some experience – having won the FIFA-endorsed indoor football World Cup in Spain in 1985.
After the transfer to Madrid was publicly announced on Monday evening European time, Reinier played 17 minutes off the bench as Brazil’s Under-23 side began the qualifying tournament for the summer’s Olympic Games with a 1-0 victory over Peru. Once that tournament in Colombia is over he heads for Spain to begin an acclimatisation process which may or may not see him soon featuring alongside Vinicius, Valverde and Rodrygo for Madrid in La Liga and the Champions League.
For now though there is celebration for Madrid and Calafat on another high profile transfer success. And disappointment for those Premier League clubs who missed out again.