Arsenal had been one of two clubs in pursuit of teenage sensation Savinho, who made his Brazilian Serie A debut at the age of just 16, but City Football Group could hijack the deal
Arsenal’s efforts to bring Brazilian wonderkid Savinho to north London have been dealt a blow, with Manchester City’s owners prepared to steal a march in the pursuit of the teenager.
The winger made his top-flight debut for Atletico Mineiro as a 16-year-old, and made his first appearances for Brazil’s under-18 side during the November international break.
Arsenal had been battling it out with Red Bull Bragantino for Savinho’s signing during the January transfer window, with the player thought to be valued at around €6.5m (£5.4m).
However, with City Football Group (CFG) entering the race, the Gunners look set to miss out on one of the most exciting youngsters in South American football – just months after adding fellow South American wonderkid Kayky to their ranks – though Savinho might still need to wait a while for a Manchester City bow.
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According to Globo, CFG’s £5.4m offer could eventually rise to €10m (£8.4m), and would include a sell-on clause worth an unspecified amount.
UOL had reported in January that an opening bid of €5m from Red Bull Bragantino was considered too low, while the same report notes that Arsenal ‘internally discussed the possibility’ of an official bid in January.
Savinho has yet to score a league goal for Atletico Mineiro, but an impressive record for Brazil’s age-group sides has not gone unnoticed.
The youngest player to ever make a top-flight appearance for Atletico Mineiro, Savinho made 13 appearances in all competitions in 2021 as his team ended the campaign as domestic champions.
“Football these days is a little bit boring. I want to mess it up, bring more joy to the game,” the teenager said, as reported by The Guardian when naming him among world football’s best young talents.
“My idol is Ronaldinho. I like him because he is bold. He was different, I like everything about him.”
Even if the expected signing is confirmed, there is no guarantee Savinho would walk straight into the City set-up.
Kayky is something of an outlier in this regard, making his debut for Pep Guardiola’s team without having first been sent out on loan, and a number of other South Americans have earned minutes at one of the other City Football Group clubs before stepping onto the pitch under Guardiola.
Argentine forward Nahuel Bustos has been made to wait for a City bow, spending the last two seasons on loan with Girona, while Venezuela international Yangel Herrera spent a year with New York City FC before a string of loans in Spain.
Other clubs under the CFG umbrella include Melbourne City, Troyes and Lommel, where City’s summer signing Kluiverth Aguilar has been spending the 2021-22 season.