Premier League • England

Chelsea told why new signing is ‘greatest Brazilian-born player since Neymar’

Palmeiras attacker Estevao Willian, Chelsea badge

Chelsea’s new signing Estevao Willian has been dubbed the best Brazilian-born player since Neymar, according to a former World Cup winner.

The Premier League side have already reached an agreement to sign the 17-year-old from Palmeiras, paying €34million (£28.7m) up front plus a further €23m (£19.4m) in add-ons.

As TT previously confirmed, Estevao will not join Chelsea until he turns 18 next year. He is also set to arrive at Stamford Bridge alongside highly-rated Ecuador international Kendry Paez, whose £17.5m switch was agreed more than 12 months ago.

Estevao has made just 22 senior appearances for Palmeiras but has already made a big name for himself in his homeland.

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And 1994 World Cup winner Branco. who is now the national team’s coordinator for the youth sides, predicts that Estevao could take the World Cup by storm in two years’ time.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve had these kids there and Brazil has a spectacular generation,” Branco told Canal WAMO.

“Brazil for 2026 will arrive very strong, they’ll arrive with strength, speed and quality.

“Estevao, for me, with all due respect to the others, this is something serious, something that I’ve never said and I’m going to say – since Neymar, he is the greatest player I’ve seen born in Brazil.

“This is my opinion, you’ve seen him close, you know. This is Brazil, they’re all spectacular but this boy, his ceiling is a bit higher.”

Palmeiras coach fears further Chelsea raids

Speaking last month, Palmeiras’ head coach, Abel Ferreira, admitted to being ‘scared’ that Chelsea would be tempted to raid them for more of their young talent going forward.

He said: “For Chelsea, what I’m afraid of is that nobody else will leave, not staff, players, coaches, but nobody. Let them leave us alone. We want temptation to stay away.

“I just hope Chelsea don’t take anyone else. I’m even scared. There’s a lot of good work going on at the academy.

“Since we arrived here, there hasn’t been a week when four or five players haven’t come to train with us.”

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For Palmeiras, it represents a second major sale of the year for the Sao Paulo-based side, with the departure too of Endrick to Real Madrid netting them a combined €136m (£116.6m).

However, unlike his teammate who can move to the Bernabeu this summer, Brexit laws in this country means Chelsea will have to wait until the summer of 2025 before the player makes the move to London, given he does not turn 18 – the required age to get a work permit now in the UK – until next April.