Marcos Leonardo in action for Santos.

Brazil finally have a generational striker talent to cherish – & Man Utd are head over heels

For a long time, Brazil didn’t just provide the world with some of the most enjoyable football to watch, but particularly some of the greatest strikers to ever grace the game.

Somewhere along the lines in the 21st Century, however, that changed.

After generations of producing elite centre forwards, Brazil struggled tremendously as Ronaldo’s powers began to wane and Adriano failed to fulfil his frightening potential.

Despite the best efforts of Richarlison and the seemingly endless speculation linking Leandro Damiao to Tottenham in the early 2010s (does he even exist, by the way?) the closest the Selecao really got to greatness in attack since the glory days was Alexandre Pato.

And while the early signs were beautifully promising, it all unravelled rather quickly after bursting onto the scene at Milan.

That might all be about to change, though, with the emergence of a certain Marcos Leonardo.

Born in the state of Bahia, Leonardo moved to Sao Paulo at age 14 and has been in the setup at Santos ever since, honing his craft at a club where some of his nation’s very best earned their stripes.

The 20-year-old might ring a bell, mostly because he’s been continually linked with a move to Europe in the last few months.

Roma are said to be interested, as are Manchester United. Considering their desperate need for goals despite signing Rasmus Hojlund, that is a compliment of the highest order.

Blessed with a spectacular hairline, a telepathic understanding of how to put the ball in the goal and a wand of a right foot, there’s not much missing from his game as it is.

Combine all of that with the most ‘I’m destined to be an all-timer footballer’ first and last name ever, all the signs point towards Leonardo being Brazil’s next generational striker talent.

Aside from looking and sounding like the perfect player, though, what qualities does he actually possess?

As we alluded to earlier, his IQ when it comes to finishing is already razor-sharp for just 20 years old.

He’s bagged an extremely impressive 20 goals from 40 games for Santos throughout their 2023 season and weighed in with five goals in as many games for Brazil at the under-20 World Cup.

You’re not interested in all that, though. Crucially, he passes the eye test – with flying colours.

Not bad, him. Could he do it on a cold Wednesday night at Powerleague though?

Probably. Over and over again, and twice on a Monday, most likely.

It’s all too easy to get carried away. While impressive, Leonardo has plenty to work on and adapting to play for one of the biggest clubs in Europe is a huge step up.

But crucially, the raw minerals are already there. In the box, he’s positioned immensely and strikes the ball tremendously clean whenever shooting at goal.

He’s also not afraid to put the Brazilian passport on the table and flaunt the footwork when needed.

Leonardo’s goal catalogue is that of a Brazilian’s, ranging from poacher’s finishes to flicks and bicycle kicks, but it’s his attitude towards playing which is just as exciting.

Speaking to FIFA, he explained: “Seeing the ball in the back of the net is all that matters. Whether it’s a wonder strike or a tap-in, it’s worth the same.

“Not scoring [is the worst thing for a number nine]. A centre-forward has to score goals.”

A wise head on the shoulders of an already prolific 20-year-old.

Be it United, Roma or someone else, whoever lands Leonardo has a gem on their hands.

By Mitch Wilks

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