By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Late Tuesday, May 23rd, Rio’s Clube de Regatas Flamengo and Spain’s Real Madrid announced that they have reached an agreement to transfer the rights of Flamengo’s 16-year-old forward, Vinícius Júnior, to the La Liga champions.
The transfer will cost Real Madrid €45 million (about R$164 million reais), a remarkable amount for a player who only made his professional debut little over a week ago and has a grand total of seventeen minutes of professional playing experience.
Flamengo, according to local news reports, will net about R$100 million, after taxes and fees, from the deal.
The deal is the second most lucrative transfer fee ever paid for a Brazilian, behind only Barcelona’s reported payment of €86.2 million for Neymar in 2013.
Official statements from both Flamengo and Real Madrid revealed that Real Madrid will own the rights to Júnior starting July 2018, when he turns eighteen. Júnior will continue to play for Flamengo until July 2019, although he could move to Real Madrid earlier if he and the two clubs agree.
Born in São Gonçalo, Júnior has been playing his way up through Flamengo’s ranks since the age of ten. Most recently, he impressed on Brazil’s U-17 (under seventeen) squad at the South American U-17 Championships in Chile, where he finished as the tournament’s top scorer with seven goals and was named Player of the Tournament.
He finally made his debut with the first team, alongside such stars as Paolo Guerrero and Diego, in the final eight minutes of Flamengo’s May 13th match against Atlético-MG.
While he had no impact on the game itself (a 1-1 draw), based on the crowd’s enthusiastic reaction to Júnior’s entrance, Nação Rubro-Negra were clearly excited at witnessing the professional debut of the young homegrown phenom.
Since then, Júnior played an additional nine minutes with the first team, again as a substitute, in the club’s 3-0 win over Atlético Goianiense on Saturday, May 20th in the Campeonato Brasileiro.