Football

Real sign Flamengo's 16-year-old striker Vinicius

Real Madrid have reached an agreement with Brazilian side Flamengo to sign 16-year-old forward Vinicius Junior in July 2018, the two clubs announced on Tuesday.

"Real Madrid and Flamengo have reached a deal for the transfer of Vinicius Junior from July 2018," a statement on the Flamengo website said.

Newly-crowned La Liga champions Real said the pacy striker will remain at Flamengo until July 2019 unless both sides agree he can move earlier.

Although the clubs did not say how long his contract was for or how much the fee was, reports in Spain suggested that Real would shell out around 46 million euros (S$71.7m), which would make him the second most expensive signing from the Brazilian league.

The most costly is Barcelona star Neymar, who moved from Santos in 2013 for an estimated 86m euros and is a player Vinicius has been likened to by the media.

Vinicius, who will turn 17 in July, made his first-team debut for the Rio club only 10 days ago, but his decisive performances for Brazil's Under-17 side singled him out as one of the game's hottest prospects.

The forward lifted the top scorer and Player of the Tournament awards in March when he helped Brazil to their 12th South American U-17s title. He is expected to lead Brazil in India in October at the U-17 World Cup.

Former Brazil international Edmundo said that Real moved early for Vinicius to avoid a repeat of losing out on Neymar to Barcelona.

"Real did not want to take the risk that Barca signed him and then lose another jewel," Edmundo said.

"They need a substitute for (Karim) Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo and other players.

"They need to renew their team with youth. They do not want Vinicius to go to Europe with another team, and then have to sign him later. I believe they have made a bet on him."

Edmundo believes the teenager could be worth 200m euros one day.

"If he does well at Real, he will be worth 200m euros," he said.

"He is very good for his age, better than average, but he must develop a lot yet."

- WIRE SERVICES

REAL MADRID