If Matt Le Tissier wants to spend his days investigating conspiracies, someone should send him to Brazil to see if his insanity can figure out how on earth they’re churning out generational talents for fun at the moment.
Seriously, what on earth is going on down there? Brazil has always been a talent factory, but in recent times, seeing them reel off star after star comes as a shock to the system, given the Selecao’s men’s senior side has struggled for consistent success in the last decade.
A 2013 Confederations Cup promised to be the start of a golden generation spearheaded by Neymar and the 2019 Copa America was a major success, but the nation hasn’t seen a squad of pure talent rock the planet and become world champions since the likes of Kaka, Ronaldinho and R9 held the chains in 2002.
But that’s all about to change.
Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo have spearheaded a revival at the top of the game and are soon to be joined at Real Madrid by Endrick, largely regarded as the world’s most promising talent right now.
The story doesn’t end there, though. In fact, the plot only thickens. While Real Madrid’s pair blossom and prepare to blood the newboy into the limelight, Palmeiras have already got to work on bringing through a replacement for the poster boy.
And the early signs suggest he could actually be even better than the man he’s set to replace.
Estevao Wilian was born and raised in Franca, Sao Paulo, beginning his youth career with Cruzeiro before making the move across state to Palmeiras.
Nicknamed ‘Messinho’ as an homage to – guess who – Lionel Messi due to their similar playing styles, Estevao is also said to be inspired by the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner.
Normally that would be fuel enough for him to already be cutting a polarising figure throughout Brazil, but when you’re as undeniably exceptional a talent as Estevao is, you can be nicknamed after whoever you want.
Hell, we could call the kid ‘John Cenainho’ and nobody would bat an eyelid right now – he’s really that good.
Before heading off to the under-17 World Cup with his nation, Estevao fired in a hat-trick for Palmeiras’ under-17 side to secure a 3-0 win over Sao Paulo to win the Campeonato Brasileiro Sub-17 for a second successive season.
The youngest player of an already youthful squad littered with talent, the 16-year-old plays his best stuff out wide but is capable of drifting inside, claiming ankles and making his markers look like fools, before crucially scoring or setting up goals.
Estevao is a complete bag of tricks and his fearlessness is enough to make other teenagers reconsider their futures and instead try to enrol for college, because suddenly football isn’t for them. His performance against England was testament to that.
Absolutely relentless. As days at the office go, they don’t come much better than Estevao running rings around the young Lions.
We’d be firmly off our seats, but the truth is we’re petrified of Estevao magically making his way over to Europe and sticking it through our legs, sending us spiralling into a midlife crisis.
So, what’s next?
With Endrick leaving in the summer, Palmeiras will have a gap to fill in their team and another starboy with obscene potential to nurture. It feels more a case of when rather than if the 16-year-old will make his senior bow for the club.
There’s still an incredibly long way to go from that point, but all the signs are promising and suggest we’re looking at Brazil’s golden generation blossoming before our eyes.
By Mitch Wilks