EXCLUSIVE: Arsenal scouting 'next Neymar'

Steve Kay
Steve Kay
  • Updated: 13 Jul 2023 17:44 BST
  • 3 min read
Marcos Leonardo, Santos, 2022/23
© ProShots

Arsenal’s recruitment team are keeping an eye on Santos striker Marcos Leonardo, who some are calling ‘the next Neymar.’

We are told that the Gunners, who already have a number of Brazilians at the club who they plucked from South America, have had scouts out watching the 20-year-old.

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Arsenal have a habit of hunting down top young Brazilian talent and bringing them to the Emirates, such as Gabriel Martinelli and Marquinhos, and they are weighing up whether to do the same here.

READ MORE: CONFIRMED: Everton in talks for Man Utd winger Anthony Elanga

At this point, we are told that a fee of around £20m could be enough to prise the youngster away and have him link up with compatriots Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Magalhaes among others.

The Brazilian Under-19 international, whose contract runs out in 2026, has scored 11 goals and four assists in 27 appearances in 2023.

READ MORE: PSG eye shock De Gea move amid Enrique's Donnarumma doubts

Who is Leandro?

Leandro was born in Itapetinga in the northeastern state of Bahia and moved to Sao Paulo at the age of 11, with his family keen to give him the chance to develop his prodigious footballing ability. Trials with Sao Paulo and Santos were soon forthcoming, but the latter won over their rivals to sign the youngster.

Brazilian stars at Arsenal have already proved to be a success
© ProShots - Brazilian stars at Arsenal have already proved to be a success

It proved a masterstroke from the Peixe's perspective. In fewer than four full seasons as a part of Santos' youth ranks the youngster helped himself to more than 100 goals, including 36 in a single Paulista Under-17 championship which broke the state record.

"I saw in him a brilliant eye for goal, opportunistic and always well placed," the forward's U13 coach Gustavo Roma recalled.

"He is a really good finisher, he always manages to be in the middle of every middle, he's very mobile and intense, with great instincts. He doesn't wait for the ball to come to him, he moves to create the best positions and finish with a goal, that's why he has so many.

"He was our top scorer in 2016 and even as a substitute last year he was one of our top scorers too. He has an eye for goal, he is a killer and born scorer."

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