Manchester United and Manchester City are reportedly keeping tabs on 17-year-old starlet Leandrinho with hopes to lure him away from current club Ponte Preta.
Leandrinho is understood to be one of the most promising targets in Brazil and has drawn the attention of many top European clubs, as per his agent.The teams rumoured to be interested are Premier League rivals Manchester United and Manchester City, along with the Catalan Giants FC Barcelona. It is also understood that the youngster was in Naples last week to visit Napoli’s training complex.
Like most Brazilian forwards, the 17-year-old possesses tremendous amount of pace, which gives him the ability drift out wide to play on the wings. He prefers the role of a central striker, but has no problem in playing on either side of the number 9. With is immaculate dribbling ability, Leandrinho is a hard man to be tackled and often finds himself on the receiving end of some brash challenges.
The 17-year-old depicts a lot of similarities to that of a younger Neymar during his days at Santos. Both have ferocious dribbling skills, are often drawn to challenges and have an eye for goal. Leandrinho (also known as Leandro) has already proven his worth on the international level when he represented the national side in the u-17 Sudamericano in 2015. The then promising 16-year-old set the world alight by finishing as the top scorer in the tournament. He bagged 8 goals en route to Brazil’s record eleventh championship. He was handed the iconic number 10 in that tournament and certainly lived up to his billing.
In an interview with Conmebol post the Sudamericano triumph, Leandrinho said that he was aware about interest from European clubs. “Yes, I know about the scouts that are present, we talked about it even with our coaches. But we try not to have that influence our game and not think about it”, stated the youngster. He also went on to suggest that Serie A side Udinese were in pole position to secure his signature, but nothing significant blossomed from that deal as the Italian club do not seem interested in bringing the 17-year-old to the club.
He could quickly adapt and be one of the most feared youngsters in England
With the resurgence of Marcus Rashford, Manchester United would need a promising striker part of their youth setup, and the Brazilian starlet may just be what’s needed at Carrington. His pace and physicality would certainly suit the conditions of the Premier League. With senior heads in the United setup like Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick, Leandrinho could be given the ideal motivation needed to make it big with club and country. Within a season or two, he could even be ready to start on a regular basis, giving the likes of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford a run for their money.
— Man United News (@ManUtdMEN) June 10, 2016
A move to United’s cross-town rivals Manchester City could also be on the cards for the Brazilian. The Citizens have struggled to find world-class wingers with Kevin de Bruyne being deployed as a wide man time and again. In signing Leandrinho, City would not get a player who would immediately challenge for a spot in the playing eleven, but a player who evetually could get accustomed to the way of life in the country and breakout one fine day, just like Kelechi Iheanacho did in this past season.
Barcelona may be a tempting option for Leandrinho; Napoli could be another plausible destination
Leandrinho has idolized the journey of Neymar from playing in the Campeonato Paulista to representing a club in Europe’s elite club competition – The Champions League, and would consider the same. With Barcelona youngster Munir Al Hadaddi not showing a great deal of progress and Sandro Ramirez set to leave the Nou Camp on a free transfer, it is no secret that Barcelona needed to add to their depth up front. Despite a terrific attacking trio of Messi-Suarez-Neymar, an injury to any one could sometimes cause an imbalance to the side, and with the option of having a solid backup option at his disposal, Luis Enrqiue wouldn’t mind paying the bucks for Leandrinho.
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) June 10, 2016
However, reports have stated that the Brazilian has turned down offers from three top clubs to pick Napoli. Di Marzio has also said due to certain rules regarding financial considerations, Leandrinho has to turn 18 before he can sign a contract. He would certainly be a welcome addition to Maurizio Sarri’s squad. With striker Gonzalo Higuain linked with a move away from the San Paolo, Sarri may decide to bring in a young striker to replace the outgoing Argentine. Jose Callejon, too, is entering his thirties, making it all the more important for Napoli to invest in one for the future, and the Ponte Preta man may indeed be a viable option.