After the departure of Brazilian phenomenon Neymar from Santos, the club has been searching for their new number 11. They have found their newest starlet in a 19-year-old Brazilian named Neilton.
Neilton’s performance in the recent Copa São Paulo de Futebol Júnior, Brazil’s under-19 cup competition, have proven to Santos, as well as several other top clubs that he has something special. Neilton’s style of play, consisting of fancy trickery and pace, has seen comparisons to Neymar’s style.
Neilton’s hat-trick performance in the Copa São Paulo de Futebol Júnior semi-final match against Palmeiras, a match in which Neymar was in attendance, was a testimony to that. “He played a great game, ” said Neymar. “I had to find Neilton and congratulate him.”
Following the Copa São Paulo de Futebol Júnior tournament which ended in a 3-1 victory for Santos over Goiás giving Santos their second Copinha title, Neilton was promoted to Santos’s senior squad. On 29 May, Neilton made his first Brasileirão appearance, earning his first assist in a 1-2 loss to Botafogo. He then went on to contribute his first senior goal on 5 June in a 1-3 defeat to Criciúma. Days later, he scored twice in a 4-1 home victory over Portuguesa.
With Neilton’s recent performances in the top Brazilian league, his name has been linked to elite sides such as Chelsea and Manchester United. Although Neilton has been impressive in the early stages of his career, he is still yet to be a proven player at the elite level. Expect him to make his way to Europe in the coming years.