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Real Madrid the pacesetters in Europe’s race for Brazilian Copinha talents

Scouts from top European clubs will be on the lookout for the next big thing when Brazil’s prestigious Copa São Paulo Júniores gets underway later in January.

Scouts from top European clubs will be on the lookout for the next big thing when Brazil’s prestigious Copa São Paulo Júniores gets underway later in January.

Once again, the arrival of the new year brings with it the Copa São Paulo Júniores, better known as the Copinha - the world’s most prestigious youth football tournament. An event that pits Brazil’s finest young talents against each other, the Copinha has witnessed players such as Endrick Felipe, Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Martinelli, Vinícius Júnior, Oscar, Lucas Moura, Ganso, Marquinhos, Danilo, Casemiro, Neymar… In other words, the cream of the crop.

Real Madrid becoming Copinha connoisseurs

In the race to discover Brazil’s latest footballing gem, the Copinha is an event that scouts from Europe’s biggest clubs are sure not to miss. More and more Brazilians arrive on European soil every year, and in recent times it’s Real Madrid who have led the way when it comes to snapping up exciting prospects from the South American country: since 2017, Vinícius, Rodrygo Goes, Reinier Jesus and Endrick have all been signed up by the LaLiga and Champions League holders. However, Los Blancos are far from alone.

Manchester City have lured Gabriel Jesus from Palmeiras and Kaiky from Fluminense, while Arsenal took Martinelli to North London from Ituano. Chelsea have just snared Vasco da Gama’s Andrey Santos, and Ajax’s Copinha scouting efforts brought David Neres and Antony from São Paulo to the Old Continent. Juventus, meanwhile, signed Kaio Jorge from Santos.

Put simply, there’s an almost endless list of deals whose origins can be traced back to the Copinha, which gets underway on 25 January in São Paulo. A competition that involves 128 teams, it is limited to players between 15 and 21 years old. Palmeiras are the defending champions, after Endrick led the Verdão to the trophy in an unforgettable tournament 12 months ago. Overall, Corinthians’ 10 titles make them the Copinha’s most decorated club.

Endrick starred for Palmeiras at last year's Copinha.
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Endrick starred for Palmeiras at last year's Copinha.MIGUEL SCHINCARIOLAFP

2023′s stand-out Copinha talents: Deivid, Arthur...

At this year’s edition, the starlets to watch include Deivid (Santos), Arthur (Fluminense), Luis Guilherme and Estevão (Palmeiras), Rayan (Vasco da Gama) and Pedro (Corinthians). With their best young talents already tied down to large release clauses - Deivid, for example, comes with an €80m buy-out figure - Brazilian clubs make sure a healthy transfer return is guaranteed before they show them off to the wider world at the Copinha. It’s a business that works for the sellers… and the buyers. European teams can pick up a Vinícius for far less than he’d be likely to cost further down the line.

See also:

AS USA stories: World’s most valuable XI


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