Twenty3’s U23s to watch: Endrick

Endrick is the latest wonderkid to emerge from Brazil.

At just 17, he has been called up to the Seleção’s most recent national team squad and already has a move to Real Madrid lined up for next summer.

After the success of players like Neymar, Vinícius Júnior and Rodrygo, Endrick looks set to be next to make a mark in Europe.

Following the Palmeiras youngster’s debut for Brazil against Colombia, we take a closer look at his rise to prominence.

Record breaker

Endrick is the youngest player to have earned a Brazil call-up since Ronaldo in 1994 — and the latter certainly didn’t do badly on the international stage.

Reaching those levels might be some way off for Endrick, but his ceiling is clearly high.

The teenager has scored nine goals from 27 appearances in the Brazilian top flight this season, although only 14 of those have been starts.

He ranks fourth in the division for goals scored per 90 minutes (0.55) and he has so far significantly outperformed his xG of 6.68.

Plenty have taken notice of his impressive form, with Real Madrid keeping a close eye on a player soon to be the centre of attention in LaLiga.

Brazil head coach Fernando Diniz has attempted to take some of the spotlight off Endrick, though.

He said: “We don’t have to expect everything from a 17-year-old player.

“I see enormous potential in him. He could become one of those legendary players in Brazilian football, but time will tell.”

Settling in

There is palpable excitement surrounding Endrick in Brazil, as the Seleção prepare for a key qualifying clash against Argentina on Tuesday night.

However — despite making an eight-minute cameo in Thursday’s surprise 2-1 to defeat to Colombia — the Palmeiras starlet could be forgiven for still feeling a little daunted, as a newcomer surrounded by more experienced and seasoned internationals.

But like most of Brazil’s wonderkids throughout history, there is a precociousness and unerring self-belief about Endrick.

Having been in the Brazil training camp during this international break, Newcastle midfielder Bruno Guimarães said:

“I think he [Endrick] is a huge talent that we are watching being born. He’s a great player. 

“He’s a bit shy, but that’s normal. He knows some players and we are trying to get him to talk to us more.

“He will feel at home here, everyone will welcome him.”

Strong mindset

As well as Endrick’s obvious technical qualities, there is a tenacity about his game.

Speaking back in March 2022, he said: “I’ll always fight. I’ll be persistent and try until the last minute I’m in the game. 

“I never give up, I pressure defenders, I run more than anyone else on the pitch.”

That drive will be important as he makes the step up to both Real Madrid and the Brazilian national team, with talent alone not enough to sustain a career at the top level.

But a lack of any real ego and a willingness to learn bodes well for a player who will be forced to deal with the weight of expectation in the coming years.

O Fenômeno

The comparisons to Ronaldo are predictable, but there are certainly shades of the great striker in Endrick’s game.

He is powerful and direct, capable of driving past defenders and finishing emphatically.

His post-shot xG (8.42) for Palmeiras this season has been consistently better than his xG (6.68), providing evidence of his ability to convert difficult chances.

And in 2022, no player in Brazil’s top flight averaged more touches in the opposition’s box per 90 minutes (6.09).

Speaking last year, Ronaldo said: “I think he [Endrick] is a boy with a very promising future and that he is already acting as a professional.”

If he continues on his current trajectory, Endrick could one day be spoken about as an equal to Ronaldo.

For now, though, the focus will be on making his mark for Brazil — if he is handed the opportunity to do so against Argentina.

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