Marcos Leonardo: Brazil’s ‘mini Agüero’ ready to leave Santos for European challenge

Speaking exclusively to FromTheSpot, Nathan Joyes named six upcoming talents currently plying their trade in South America. With potential moves to Europe in January in the pipeline for some of them, the founder and CEO of The Copa Club assessed the strength suitability of these prospects.

‘I can’t not start with Marcos Leonardo,’ explained Joyes, adding that he is an ‘unbelievable, unbelievable player!’

‘Without going into too much detail, Santos are an absolute mess. They sold Deivid Washington and Ângelo [Gabriel] to Chelsea, for next to nothing. Santos produce unbelievable talent. They have one of the best academies in world football, and are renowned for it, but for them to sell cheap because of, basically, their finances and the panicking has meant they’ve taken a massive, massive gamble with Marcos Leonardo.’

Delving deeper into Santos’ long and glorious history, Joyes explained that they ‘have never been relegated and are five points clear [of relegation] with 4 games to go, which doesn’t mean anything in Brazilian football. They’re on their 3rd or 4th manager of the season. Their finances are in ruin, but they’ve decided to keep Marcos Leonardo as he is the only person who is going to keep them up.’

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There was a deal in place, with Roma, between the player and Roma back in the summer for around about €15 million,’ Joyes continued, before going on to add that the club have a gentleman’s agreement with Marcos Leonardo that could see him afforded a European move in January if his efforts help the club fight relegation.

‘Now, I can’t remember exactly how many goals he is on but he’s playing in a ridiculously poor Santos team and is on like fifteen [goals] or something like that, I’d have to check. He’s scored more goals than Vitor Roque [who is moving to Barcelona].’

‘Vitor Roque is playing for Athletico Paranaense, who are ok in the league, much better than Santos, but Marcos Leonardo has turned up week in and week out and has scored, just, an array of goals. He’s almost like a mini [Sergio] Agüero in the way he plays, and I think there have been lots of Agüero comparison to Vitor Roque, which I think are more than fair, but it’s the size and similarity with Marcos Leonardo.’

There has been a recent flurry of Brazilian talents moving to Europe, with Joyes citing Kendrick’s move to Real Madrid in addition to the aforementioned Vitor Roque. ‘Marcos Leonardo has almost been left behind and he’s the senior player. Don’t get me wrong, Endrick is something else for his age but Marcos Leonardo is just an unbelievable poacher. He has an array of finishing. He can pick up the ball from deep or sit on the back line and hassle [the defenders]. The fact that he’s in the top 3 going for the Golden Boot, within a team that are fighting relegation, says everything!’

Joyes travelled to the FIFA U20 World Cup in the summer, seeing Brazil fall to a quarterfinal defeat against Israel. ’That was a really poor tournament from them,’ he said. ‘However, Leonardo scored five and finished second in the Golden Boot, and he only finished second to [Cesare] Casadei, the Italian who went on loan to Leicester from Chelsea.’

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‘He’s been linked here, there and everywhere: [Manchester] United, Real Madrid, even all the way to the likes of [Nottingham] Forest, maybe because of their South American connection. I think you definitely rule [Forest] out now, that’s not happening.’

‘He’s going to go to a top club and I’d love to see him go to the likes of a Roma, or somewhere like that, and really flourish there as it’s a nice stepping stone. So, of the three I’ve mentioned: Endrick and Vitor Roque are the next Brazilian sensations, but Marcos Leonardo is not far behind, to be honest. I think he has a real future due to the things he’s done in this really poor Santos team.’

‘I think the whole transfer window should be about this lad and who picks him up because the deal, if Santos get relegated, means they could pick him up for like €15 million. If Santos stay up, it’ll be €20 million, €25 million – but you’re getting a twenty-year-old Brazilian player who’s got ten years ahead of him and he has all the qualities to adapt to European football.’

‘I always say, give it a year, give him a couple years cause it’s such a huge culture change, language, bringing family over but he’s still only twenty, still only a boy. I try and defend him as much as possible because it doesn’t always work out, doesn’t always transition that way. However, the qualities with Leonardo are there and it does look like the perfect match so whoever does pick him up has probably got one of the best deals of the January transfer window.’

‘I’m really excited to see where he ends up and I think he can go anywhere! The fact that even Real Madrid were looking at him and having representatives over to [look at] him, just goes to show the quality he possess. So, for me, he’s one of the most exciting players [to watch out for] and I, purposefully, have an in-depth feature about him and Santos in my magazine and have been a bit more invested in it than most of the others because I think it’s a really fascinating story.’

The third instalment of Joyes’ The Copa Club Magazine is available for purchase now via this link, in both physical and digital form. This issue contains articles from a staggering 17 contributors across 86 pages.