Metinho: The ‘Brazilian Pogba’ set for Man City move

The 18-year-old will follow his Fluminense team-mate Kayky to the Etihad Stadium in the coming months having caught the eye in South America.

For some time, the future of Brazilian football has been developed in the Xerem neighbourhood of Duque de Caxias in Rio de Janeiro.

It is there, within the Fluminense academy, that the likes of Marcelo, Thiago Silva and Fabinho began their trophy-laden careers.

And while those players have long since left for Europe, there is a new generation coming through in Xerem that could prove truly special.

The leader of that group is Kayky, with ‘the left-footed Neymar’ having already agreed a move to Manchester City that could be worth up to £18 million ($25.5m) if certain targets are met.

And the 17-year-old could yet be joined by a compatriot at the Etihad Stadium in the years to come, with fellow Fluminense starlet Metinho also close to joining City.

With long strides, a powerful shot, superb passing range and plenty of physical strength for his age, Metinho has already earned comparisons to some of the world’s greatest midfielders.

“People joke and sometimes call him Pogba due to his style, his appearance and because he plays with his head up.” Marcelo Veiga, the technical coordinator of the Fluminense academy, told TV Globo .

“There’s a long way to go before I get to his level,” Metinho smiled as part of the same interview. “But I will work for it, and maybe one day be better than him!”

It is not just his exploits on the field, though, that have made headlines in Brazil.

Born in Matadi, a sea port in the Democratic Republic of Congo, ‘Meto’ emigrated to Brazil with his father, Abel, as a one-year old.

With only around R$2000 (£250/$380) to their name, the Silu family fled religious persecution and war in their homeland to travel 7000 kilometres to South America in the hope of building a new life.

But why Brazil? Abel was a fan of the Selecao, and wanted to see whether any of his children could one day make the grade at the highest level.

They made a home for themselves on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, with Meto soon becoming ‘Metinho’ due to his father’s love of Ronaldinho and Robinho.

By the age of 10, he was catching the eye of some of Brazil’s biggest clubs as he represented fourth-tier Madureira’s futsal team.

“Vasco da Gama wanted him, ” Abel revealed in a recent interview. “They were the first team that came to me and invited me to take him to the training ground.

“I went to Vasco and filled out a form, but when we returned home, he (Metinho) said: ‘No, dad, I want to play for Fluminense.’”

Metinho, thus, returned to Madureira and waited for scouts from the Tricolor to take notice. When they did turn up to watch him for the first time, he showcased his ability with a hat-trick.

Unsurprisingly, they were soon knocking at Abel’s door and the dream of the boy from Africa one day representing Brazil truly began to take shape.

That was a dream that moved a step closer in November 2020, when Metinho was called-up by Selecao boss Tite to join in with the senior international side’s training sessions, allowing Metinho to test himself alongside the likes of Neymar and Casemiro.

“Brazil fulfilled my dream and that of my father,” he said in an interview with the  CBF . “If it wasn’t for my father having seen football here, being a Ronaldinho fan, dreaming of coming to the country with me, I wouldn’t be here.

“In the beginning, we had difficulties because we didn’t know how to speak Portuguese. But my father was learning. I came here as a one-year-old, learned and now I’m at home. Here is my home.”

While that dream of one day pulling on the famous yellow shirt might be a few years away from being realised, right now Metinho is impressing all who see him in action in the green and red of Fluminense.

As captain of the club’s Under-17s, he lifted the Brasileirao trophy in 2020 and led them to the final of the Copa do Brasil in what a stunning campaign from the youth side.

Fans of the Maracana outfit were so engrossed by the club’s ‘golden generation’ that they began to follow their matches as closely as they did the senior side.

Metinho’s reward was a first-team debut at the start of the 2021 season, as he came off the bench to play 24 minutes against Portuguesa-RJ in March, though that remains his only senior appearance to date.

Regardless, he has caught the eye of a number of European clubs already, with City set to pay a reported £4.3m ($6m) to bring him to the club in the coming months.

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