Defending Premier League champions Manchester City look to have pipped Barcelona to the signing of Brazilian starlet Yan Couto.
The 17-year-old right-back is on the books of Brazilian second-tier side Coritiba, and despite being yet to make his senior breakthrough, Couto has made his name for his national team's youth side and is regarded as one of the hottest prospects in South America.
Brazilian transfer regulations prohibit Couto from leaving before his 18th birthday, but when that date comes in June, he
World Cup Winner
Couto caught the eye of Manchester City and Barcelona, along with several other European clubs, through his performances with Brazil's Under-17 World Cup side, which won the tournament on home soil in November of last year.
The attacking right-back impressed throughout, playing in five of the side's seven games, missing only two through suspension after picking up a red card in the second group game.
The young Canaries won every match en route to claiming their fourth title at this youth level as Couto not only showed his defensive qualities, but excelled in the final third of the pitch.
Going into stoppage time of the Under-17 World Cup final against Mexico, the score was level at 1-1 with Brazil throwing bodies forward to complete their comeback victory. In the 93rd minute, Couto whipped in an inch-perfect cross for the on-rushing Lázaro to volley home the winner.
This was one of ten chances the young full-back created throughout the tournament, more than any other defender in the competition.
Speaking to Coritiba's YouTube channel following the World Cup, Couto said:
Couto can also boast immense pace to go with this creativity. Speaking to the Brazilian football federation during the Under-17 World Cup, certainly the most defining three weeks of Couto's young life so far, the 17-year-old revealed that his nickname is, while unimaginative, accurate: 'The Flash'.
With speed, an eye for a pass and his Brazilian heritage, it isn't surprising that the young right-back has been tarnished with the unhelpful tag of 'the new Dani Alves'.
The former Barcelona star may be one of Couto's heroes, along with Cristiano Ronaldo and fellow Brazilian full-back Adriano, but lumbering any promising young talent with the title of 'the new [insert superstar's name here]' is yet to have anything other than a detrimental effect. So, let's stick to 'The Flash' for now.
Student of the Game
With a transfer to one of the best teams in Europe almost complete and an international trophy (at youth level) on his CV, one can be forgiven for thinking Couto has already made it.
Yet, at such a young age and with no senior appearances to his name, the Brazilian's future as a player is anything but certain. However, his love of the game is such that he admitted in an interview with the CBF's website that he would
A competitive streak is something that most consider integral to a successful career in sport and it seems Couto is not lacking in that department, even if it's not an immediately obvious trait.
The young full-back, in the same interview with the CBF's website, said: "
Couto also revealed that he lives by the mantra: "
A sentiment he will have to stick by should he hope to succeed with Manchester City in the Premier League.