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Chelsea close to £56m deal for Brazilian ace also wanted by Barcelona

Chelsea are close to completing a £56million deal for Brazilian teenage sensation Estevao Willian from Palmeiras, talkSPORT understands.

The 17-year-old winger was also wanted by Barcelona, ​​but the Blues won the race to get one of the next future stars off the Brazilian production line.

Chelsea move closer to major deal to sign Brazilian prodigy Estevao Willian

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Chelsea move closer to major deal to sign Brazilian prodigy Estevao WillianCredit: AFP

Estevao attracted the attention of some of the world’s best clubs after an impressive breakthrough in his homeland, but he has been known for years as one of Brazil’s top prospects.

Nicknamed “Messinho” – or “Little Messi” – for the similarities between his style of play and the Argentine maestro, Estevao secured a sponsorship deal with Nike when he was just ten years old – making him the youngest Brazilian to sign a contract with the global sportswear manufacturer. giant.

He began his youth career at Cruzeiro in 2017 before joining Palmeiras in 2021, and made his senior debut for the Sao Paulo club in December 2023 at the age of 16.

To date, Estevao has made just 17 first-team appearances for Palmeiras, scoring three goals and providing one assist, but Chelsea have clearly seen enough to justify another massive transfer fee.

Fans will have to wait to see the Brazilian prodigy in action, however, as he won’t officially join the Blues until 2025, when he turns 18.

Estevao will sign a seven-year contract with the west London club, with the option of a further year.

The £56 million package will make the teenager the most expensive export in the history of South American football once finalized.

Neymar appeared to hold that record thanks to his £63 million move from Santos to Barcelona, ​​before an investigation into the deal revealed that £34 million of that fee had actually gone to Neymar’s parents, the Brazilian club having only paid what was left.

Estevao faced England in the Under-17 World Cup last summer.

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Estevao faced England in the Under-17 World Cup last summer.Credit: AFP

Brazil’s best young talents are usually snapped up by the Spanish giants, with Real Madrid spending a combined £118m to sign Vinicius Jr from Flamengo, Rodrygo from Santos and Endrick, who will finally arrive from Palmeiras this summer after initially made a deal to bring him back. in 2022.

Chelsea – who actually did a deal for Endrick first, only for Todd Boehly to pull the plug – will be hoping Estevao can emulate those Premier League stars when he eventually arrives.

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It’s been an incredible six months for the youngster, who came through the youth ranks at Palmeiras – where he won four trophies in two different age groups – and competed at the Under-17 World Cup to become a regular starter for the club’s senior team.

And it seems the Messi links aren’t just for fun, with Palmeiras youth director Joao Paulo Sampaio convinced Brazil youth international Estevao is destined for major success.

Asked how he compared to Real Madrid team-mate Endrick, Sampaio told Spanish outlet AS: “Estevao has more technical talent than them, but he hasn’t matured physically yet.

“He’s a year younger and still doesn’t genetically have the physical build of the other two, but he’s a great phenomenon.

Estevao will follow in the footsteps of his Palmeiras teammate Endrick (pictured) who is heading to Real Madrid.

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Estevao will follow in the footsteps of his Palmeiras teammate Endrick (pictured) who is heading to Real Madrid.Credit: Getty

“His left foot is really something special. The checks he makes are incredible and his speed with the ball is incredible.

“The Palmeiras photographer took a sequence of 100 photos of him running with the ball and in every one of them he emerged with the ball stuck to his left foot.”

And, when asked about where he feels most comfortable on the pitch, Estevao told Mundo Deportivo: “I can play on the right, but I feel more comfortable floating in the middle, so I am closer to the surface.

“I can turn left, right and that’s where I feel freer when I play.”

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