Neymar is no doubt the face of Brazilian football right now, as well as one of the world’s best. And at 27, he figures to play at a superstar level for many more years, provided he can carry on with his good health.
But already, another Brazilian seems nearly ready to ascend to Neymar’s level, and perhaps beyond: his name is Richarlison de Andrade, or simply, Richarlison.
Just 21, Richarlison is a dynamic forward, already part of the fabled Seleção, and following in the footsteps of his idol (who, of course, is Neymar himself).
Richarlison turned professional at the age of 18, playing first for América Mineiro and next with Fluminense in Brazil’s Série A.
Two years later, in 2017, Richarlison made it to the English Premier League, which many would still call the greatest league in the world. He played for Watford during the 2017/18 season, appearing in every match and scoring five goals.
He then completed a transfer to Everton for the current season, where he has already more than doubled his goal total with Watford.
Amazingly, it’s now been a decade since Neymar – then 17 – turned professional himself. He first played for the same Santos club that developed him in its youth academy. From there, somewhat unlike Richarlison, Neymar skyrocketed to international stardom fairly quickly. Just three years after turning pro, he was voted the Best Player of the 2012 Recopa Sudamericana. By 2016, he had come to Europe to play for La Liga’s Barcelona.
He continued his stellar play for Barça before ultimately jumping ship to Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1, on an absolutely massive contract.
Clearly, Richarlison has a long way to go before he can be mentioned in the same breath as Neymar. The latter’s quick ascendance to clubs like Barcelona and PSG dwarfs anything Richarlison has accomplished to date. But the younger Brazilian forward is still only 21, is genuinely talented, and has an amazing future ahead of him.
In other words, he is merely scratching the surface of his superstar potential.
Rumour has it that even now he’s attracting interest from Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and it makes sense given United’s clear need for a stronger attack. One need only look at some recent football scores to see that United is having a great deal of trouble finding the back of the net, and this could amount to a game-changing opportunity for Richarlison.
A chance to go to Manchester as United’s saviour attacking force could be the closest thing he gets at this age to Neymar’s Barcelona breakthrough. That said, there are also reports that Richarlison is being eyed by Serie A’s AC Milan – and by Barcelona itself!
Whichever club gets Richarlison will have not only a talented forward, but a player said to have an unrivalled work ethic. He doesn’t seem inclined to let anything stop him from reaching his potential, as indicated by his journey to football stardom in the first place.
Plus, he has Neymar in front of him as added motivation! No doubt Richarlison hopes to reach the same stratospheric heights in time.
Whatever happens specifically, it will be fascinating to see this budding star’s career play out. He resembles a young Neymar in more ways than one, and if he can follow through on that promise we’ll remember his name for a very long while.