Football News

“He wants to leave” — Santos manager confirms Brazil’s ‘new Ronaldo’ has got itchy feet amid Juventus interest

By Ben Green

Published: 18:05, 29 July 2021

The latest wonderkid to emerge from Santos’ esteemed production line may soon be off, with 19-year-old sensation Kaio Jorge itching for a move, the club’s manager has confirmed.

Despite still being a teenager, Kaio has already racked up nearly 90 appearances for boyhood club Santos and is said to hold a record alongside former academy superstar Neymar as the joint-youngest player to score in Brazil’s Copa Sao Paulo — a prominent youth football tournament in the country.

The Selecao starlet has already generated the moniker Menino de Oro — “Golden Boy” — after his mind-boggling antics at youth level, in which he netted over 100 goals from the U11s all the through to his debut for the first team at just 16 years of age.

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Kaio was also a revelation in the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup, in which he received the Bronze Boot and helped his nation lift the esteemed youth gong. A tournament famously won two years earlier by an England side that included Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho and Emile Smith Rowe.

Indeed Santos has a rich lineage of world class academy products and the Sao Paulo club look to have unearthed another gem, with Kaio drawing comparisons to Brazilian immortal Ronaldo Nazario. If he even has half the talent of O Fenomeno he will be world class.

The likes of Neymar and Rodrygo have both donned the hallowed black and white in recent times, while the club also boast Pele among their academy alumni, and fans will be hoping Kaio is another name that will go on to become a generational talent.

Unfortunately, unless your name is Pele, Santos stars more often than not end up in Europe, and Kaio could be off before he has even turned 20, with manager Fernando Diniz confirming the youngster wants to leave, with reports in Italy, notably from La Gazzetta dello Sport, claiming Juventus have made contact.

“I’ve spoken to Kaio and I’ve understood that he wants to leave,” Diniz said.

“However, he wants to find a way to pay back Santos in some way, so he wants to leave remaining on good terms with the club.

“He will play if he stays because he is an important player for us and it’s difficult to replace him.

“I don’t like to talk about transfers, but I’d like him to stay, at least until December,” the coach concluded.

That December date is when Kaio’s current deal expires at the club, so Santos may yet be tempted to sanction a transfer this summer and receive a fee in return. Given his burgeoning reputation in South America, there is unlikely to be a shortage of suitors lining up.