Neymar makes huge Estevao Willian prediction after Chelsea move

  • Neymar reacts to Estevao Willian transfer announcement
  • Winger will join Chelsea from Palmeiras in summer 2025
  • European clubs increasingly looking to South America early
Estevao Willian will join Chelsea in 2025
Estevao Willian will join Chelsea in 2025 / NELSON ALMEIDA/GettyImages

Neymar has predicted that new Chelsea signing Estevao Willian will become a "genius", further stoking excitement about the 17-year-old’s pre-arranged arrival at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea announced last weekend that a deal had been struck with Palmeiras that will see Estevao trade Sao Paulo for London in the summer of 2025 after he turns 18.

The Blues will pay an initial £29m that could rise to £51m if various add-ons are triggered.

Estevao, who will celebrate his 18th birthday next April, has only played a handful of senior games for Palmeiras but has already set tongues wagging about his ability and potential. One of those is Neymar, who was himself once considered Brazil's brightest young talents.

"I think Estevao is the big talent that is coming in Brazilian football. I think he will be a genius," the 32-year-old Al Hilal forward and national team legend told the media.

Neymar knows what it's like as a hyped South American talent / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

Recruiting teenage talents from South America, sometimes even before they are old enough to actually move internationally, has become an increasingly used transfer strategy for clubs in Europe.

Chelsea alone have brought in Brazilian trio Deivid Washington, Andrey Santos and Angelo Gabriel since 2023, with another deal set up for Kendry Paez to arrive from Ecuador in 2025. There are also reported talks with Boca Juniors over 19-year-old defender Aaron Anselmino.

Real Madrid will soon welcome Endrick to Europe, having played alongside Estevao at Palmeiras. The 17-year-old, who turns 18 next month, is currently leading the line for Brazil at the Copa America. This is well worn territory for Madrid, having sealed the signing of Vinicius Junior from Flamengo when the winger was only 16. A similar deal with Santos was done for Rodrygo the following year.

Barcelona have had less luck with Vitor Roque, who has struggled to command game time since making the move from Athletico Paranaense midway through 2023/24.