Vinicius, Rodrygo and Reinier, what do these three names suggest? That is the future of the Brazilian public attack and, coincidentally, all of Real Madrid’s payroll. But the word “coincidence” is not in the dictionary of a man named Juni.
At the age of 13, Neymar had his first visit to the Real Madrid headquarters. He traveled with his father to Spain in 2005. They spent 3 weeks in a luxury hotel, all expenses paid by Real. The 13-year-old stunted boy then trained in Real’s academy and met members of the first team like Ronaldo de Lima and Zinedine Zidane. In the evening, Neymar went out to eat with Robinho, both of them had the same representative Wagner Riberio. Until Neymar boarded a plane back to Brazil, the prospect of following his senior Robinho left Santos to try his luck in Madrid was about to come true.
Real Madrid wanted to bring Neymar to the youth team, send him to school, arrange a house and work for his father, Neymar Sr. The paperwork is almost completed, just one more signature of Neymar‘s mother is complete. At that time, Neymar was still a true “raw pearl” but had the impression that Real was confident he would be a big star later.
Now we all know this has failed. Santos mobilized all resources to keep Neymar in the Vila Belmiro field until 2013. They tried to raise the compensation to the level of Real’s suggestion and after the emotional negotiation process, Neymar and his family decided to him. Babies should continue to grow in their homeland.
That was not the last time Real approached Neymar. By 2009, two lawyers representing the Spanish royal team spent 11 days in Sao Paulo trying to reach a contract. Their efforts were unsuccessful, like breaking the last faction in 2013, just before Neymar signed with Barcelona. It was a real shock, president Florentino Perez reeled. Neymar not only refused Real but also joined “that place”.
That shock is still felt today, not only because Real is still very lingering with Neymar, but also because of the efforts to not make a mistake named Neymar for the second time. In the past 3 years, Real has bought 3 potential attacking stars of Brazilian football: Vinicius Junior, Rodrygo and Reinier. All three agreed to join Real shortly before the age of 18 despite receiving countless attention from other giants in Europe.
The total amount of money can be up to 130 million euros, showing the enthusiasm of Real. But money is not the main factor in the success or failure of these deals. Every other team can put on the table the same amount of money but Real won the battle with all their hearts and minds, convincing their preschoolers and families that the upcoming project is perfect.
These require personal effects, a fact hard to explain why but one person has changed everything at Real. His name is Jose Antonio Calafat de Souza but everyone still calls him Juni. He does not speak to the media and can be considered an invisible person with the usual adjective “mysterious”. Juni is the head of Real’s international scouting division but his name is not even available on the club’s website.
The way of the mysterious person
Juni started his career as a journalist, then emerged as a BLV on the TV show “Fiebre Maldini”. Juni‘s understanding of South American football helped him gain popularity, along with the work at Real. One of Juni‘s first suggestions was Casemiro, a talented player but clearly not a recognizable star. The success of the Casemiro deal helped Juni to score strong points in the eyes of professionals. They realized just how keen his eyes were and really admired a recent option called Fede Valverde.
What makes Juni different from other people in the same purpose is the ability to communicate with young players and their families. This will easily be demonstrated when you ask anyone regarding the transfer of Vinicius, Rodrygo and Reinier. “Every big team has a representative in Brazil but Juni makes a difference,” said Nick Arcuri – the representative of Rodrygo.
Juni is a Spaniard but speaks fluent Portuguese when he spent his childhood in Sao Paulo. But if it was merely a language, an ordinary interpreter would be more than enough. Juni understands that parents always want reassurance about playing time and opportunities for their children, money is important but not all, and moving to Europe is a huge change. A 17-year-old boy can hardly consider all the components, so the impact of the family and the representative is very important.
“In every market, it is important to develop a relationship with the representative and the parents of the player,” said Jeff Vetere – former Real scout. This was especially true in Brazil, where 90% of the players came from poor working families. They were talking about changing their lives.
Juni always chose hard work. In Vinicius’ case, he had his first meeting with the player and his family before 14 months before Real reached an agreement with Flamengo. Technical director of that time Flamengo, Rodrigo Caetano was really impressed with Juni‘s way of working:
“Juni talked to Vinicius’ family long before that. I was so impressed with the background information he gathered about their family. He knew all the people around Vinicius and thought. Only then did Juni talk to the club and their representative Frederico Pena, which was a close relationship that allowed the player to agree on the project that Juni outlined which allowed the transfer to Real. advantage”.
Rodrygo’s transfer over the following Summer took even more patience. By the time Juni arranged a conversation between Perez and Santos president Jose Carlos Peres via FaceTime from a London cafe, he had been following the case for four years.
“Juni has been following Rodrygo’s development since 2014,” the representative of Arcuri recalled. “Willian Jose went to Real Castilla at the time and I presented Rodrygo to Juni. He was only 13 years old. I told Juni that this boy has the quality to join Real in the future.
Juni is always professional and sincere with us. He makes people feel comfortable. We know he is the one who always puts the truth first, whether Real signed or not. When Juni decided to pursue, it gave Rodrygo more confidence in his choice. He closely followed Juni‘s development and played an important role in the deal to Real. He offers the best sports project “.
“Project” is a word that is repeated in Juni‘s work. He does not work with how to buy a recipe. Juni‘s task is to make the player realize that Real Madrid is the perfect place to develop talent. That means joining Real Castilla, Team B of Real. But the examples of Casemiro and Vinicius prove there is still a way to go straight to the first team. Arcuri said that everything Rodrygo once dreamed of, they had posed in front of the boy. PSG, Dortmund and Barca had all asked to buy but Real had outlined both short-term and future plans.
The case of Reinier is similar. He completed his contract to move to Real after turning 18 in January this year. Reinier was pursued by both City and PSG but until that time, Juni had been talking to the family of the player for 3 years – right from the time he was still in the middle of a project with Vinicius.
The fight is coming soon
Brazil is a potential market but now, big teams no longer wait until the players are 20 or 21 years old. They want to reach an agreement when they are 16 or 17, observe the development until they are eligible to sign an export contract, and then shape the tactical and technical aspects. Things have changed dramatically in the past decade. Although Neymar is famous for that, there are still more than 200 matches for the first team Santos before coming to Barca. Reinier just played … 15 professional matches before going to Europe. Vinicius even made the cover of Marca before the first training session with the first team Flamengo.
Things are speeding up and whatever the public opinion is, it’s still impossible to brake. “Market pays for potential,” Caetano said. “Most Brazilian teams do not have any B or U23 teams. Why? Because Brazilian teams recognize talent very early. Of course, there are exceptions and some people make the breakthrough later. 20. But in general, many of the young players here are rushing to the first team, and they skip many steps because their talent requires it. young players hoping they will thrive in Europe instead of Brazil “.
In the end, the Brazilian league is a place to suffer. The brightest talents were taken away before the audience could feel excited. Most of the teams are in debt and it is difficult to refuse a large sum of money. With the players, of course, there will be winners and losers in the adventure journey in Europe.
It remains to be seen whether Vinicius, Rodrygo and Reinier will reach the level of Neymar but thanks to Juni, Real has the basis for hope and no regrets.
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