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Reinier: Why Real Madrid have moved for Flamengo starlet

An attacking midfielder blessed with personality, intelligence and vision, Flamengo's Reinier Jesus also boasts a keen eye for goal.

Reinier: Why Real Madrid have moved for Flamengo starlet
Wagner Meier Getty Images

Reinier Jesus' move to Real Madrid has been all but finalised, with the Flamengo midfielder's signing set to be confirmed by Los Blancos once he turns 18 later in January.

Initially, the LaLiga giants plan to play the Brazilian in their 'B' team, Castilla, who are enduring a difficult season under legendary former Madrid striker Raúl González Blanco. However, there is plenty of excitement at the Bernabéu about the first-team impact that the 17-year-old could go on to have.

Reminiscent of Rai and Kaká

The teenager's personality and self-confidence have helped him to very swiftly establish himself as a fan idol at Flamengo. There are few players of his age who boast his intelligence and vision; a speed of thought that enables him to make the difference. His natural position is attacking midfield, with his right-footedness meaning he tends to drift to the left. Among his chief weapons is his ability to enjoy close control over the ball as he carries it forward at great speed.

His Brazil Under-17s coach, Dalla Dea, has compared him with Rai and Kaká, both legends of the South American country's game. "I see him as a number 10," Dea says. "He has the characteristics of both players. He likes to get into the box, and score goals from outside of the area, too."

Impressive figures with Flamengo

Given that the penalty box isn't his natural habitat, Reinier possesses impressive goalscoring instincts, having only needed 2.66 shots per goal in the most recent Brazilian league season. Indeed, his average of a goal every 118 minutes was the second best in the competition, bettered only by Gabriel Barbosa, who was on target every 102 minutes. His overall tally of six in 15 games only served to ramp up the interest in him among Europe's top clubs. Three of those strikes came as a substitute, illustrating his ability to have an impact on games off the bench.

In 2019, Flamengo lifted the Brazilian title after a 10-year wait, and Reinier was a revelation in that championship victory. His fine displays were crucial in the run-in, helping the Rubro-Negro to pull away from their challengers. He's a player with the ability to be in the right place at the right time and who is a consistent source of danger when he picks the ball up in the final third.

A fixture in Brazil's age-group teams

Reinier has long been a key figure in Brazil's age-group national sides. His progress has been closely followed by the Brazilian Football Confederation from a very early age - and the organisation's active role in helping to bring him through has borne fruit in his performances: he has always looked right at home in the yellow shirt and has consistently delivered his best form for the 'Canarinha'.

Having stood out for the Under-15s, he was one of the best players at 2019's Under-17 South American Championship in Peru, despite Brazil's surprise group-stage exit. Months later, he was called up for the Under-17 World Cup, but Flamengo refused to release him for the competition. However, he will be at the South American Olympic qualifying tournament in Colombia this month, having been included in Brazil's Under-23 squad in spite of his young age.