Who is Estevao Willian? The Brazilian gem that has Chelsea and Man City chasing his signature

James Pennington
England's Joel Ndala, right, battles for the ball against Brazil's Estevao Willian during their FIFA U-17 World Cup Group C soccer match at Jakarta International Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia

England's Joel Ndala, right, battles for the ball against Brazil's Estevao Willian during their FIFA U-17 World Cup Group C soccer match at Jakarta International Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia

Estevao Willian is a 16-year-old winger currently contracted to Brazilian club Palmeiras and is already drawing interest from Europe’s super clubs despite his tender age.

TEAMtalk’s Fraser Gillan exclusively revealed on Thursday that Chelsea, Manchester City, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid are all tracking the wonderkid who has yet to even make his first-team professional debut.

Estevao has appeared for Palmeiras’ youth side 14 times in the 2023 season, scoring two and assisting once from the wing.

With Brazil seemingly producing attackers of world-class potential what feels like every day, Estevao is next in line for a big-money switch.

With compatriot and fellow Palmeiras sensation Endrick already having agreed to a move to Real Madrid this summer, a gap in the first-team is on the horizon for the 16-year-old whose debut has a certain inevitability about it.

Estevao Willian’s career so far

At just 16, Estevao doesn’t turn 17 until April 2024 but already has the world’s biggest clubs on alert.

Born in Franca in the state of Sao Paulo, Estevao spent four years in the youth system of Cruzeiro before eventually making the switch to his current club Palmeiras in 2021, initially on a trainee contract.

Before this switch, he dubbed the nickname ‘Messinho’, a homage to a certain Lionel Messi whom he had been compared to and admired from an early age.

In 2018, at the age of 10, Estevao signed a contract with Nike, becoming the youngest Brazilian to sign with the company after surpassing Real Madrid star Rodrygo.

In the 2022 season, he helped the Palmeiras youth teams win each of the Campeonato Paulista Sub-17Campeonato Paulista Sub-15, Copa do Brasil Sub-17 and Campeonato Brasileiro Sub-17. In October 2023, he scored a hattrick in the Campeonato Brasileiro Sub-17 final to defeat Sao Paulo 3-0 which meant his team lifted their second consecutive title in the competition.

He has appeared for Brazil’s U17 on three occasions, scoring one goal, and in November 2023 featured for the side against England U17s which Brazil won 2-1 and Estevao was a star performer in the match.

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What is Estevao Willian like as a player?

Able to play off of either flank, Estevao is at his moth lethal when coming off the right flank and onto his favoured left foot, though he is not incapable of using his right foot should the situation arise.

Like many Brazilian wingers, Estevao is full of flair, loves to run with the ball, take on his man and beat them repeatedly.

Estevao is a danger from free-kick scenarios as well, with his ability to strike the ball with power and placement seeing him score numerous times from dead-ball situations.

He is not selfish either. When he gets into the box he doesn’t shy away from the opportunity to pass to a teammate in a more favourable position, thus highlighting his willingness to help the team instead of going for personal glory.

Far from the finished article, it remains to be seen exactly what sort of player Estevao will develop into, but he has all the raw abilities to become a world-beater in several positions.

Once he starts playing regular first-team football, it will become clearer what sort of player Estevao can become at the professional level.

Where will Estevao Willian go?

Estevao signed his most recent contract in the summer of 2023, running until 2026. He will be 19 when the deal eventually runs out, though there is no guarantee that he will see that contract through to its natural conclusion.

We have seen many Brazilians make the journey overseas to Europe at an early age such as Vinicius Jr, Rodrygo, Ronaldo Nazario and many others in an attempt to fast-track their route to the pinnacle of the game.

This doesn’t always work and we have seen many Brazilians struggle to adapt to life thousands of miles away from home in a foreign country where they don’t speak the language.

However, that isn’t always the rule and we have seen many Brazilians succeed at an early age. It remains to be seen what category Estevao will fall into should he make the trip across the Atlantic, though he has all the natural ability and more to fall into the positive one.

Real Madrid has a history of signing Brazilians and with current players Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo being joined by Endrick in the summer, it would make sense for Esetvao to move to the Spanish capital where he will have several compatriots.

Bayern Munich have been a dominant force in the Bundesliga for the past decade, though breaking into their first team is no easy task as young Frenchman Mathys Tel has found out.

Chelsea continue to add to their ever-growing squad, with Kendry Paez joining up next summer from Ecuadorian side Independiente del Valle with Deivid Washington and Angelo already at the club after both moving from Santos this summer. Andrey Santos is also on their books and it out on loan at Nottingham Forest where he has struggled for game time.

Man City have an abundance of attacking options and not many would turn down the chance to work with Pep Guardiola. It would be likely that Estevao would join up with their youth teams initially before integrating himself into the first team at a later date.

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