Brazilian forward Talles Magno has emerged as a rumoured target for Liverpool this summer, but who is the Vasco da Gama teenager coined the ‘next Neymar’?
The Reds have been linked with Talles throughout 2020, and the rumours have increased in prominence over the last week with reports suggesting the club has made contact with Vasco.
But 18-year-old has attracted interest from a number of Europe’s powerhouses having established himself as one of Brazil’s brightest up-and-coming talents.
Sources from Brazil have claimed Liverpool made contact with Talles’ club to see if a transfer is possible this summer and to get to know the person behind the player, as is custom under the helm of Jurgen Klopp.
While his contract with Vasco runs until 2022 and includes a release clause of £45 million, the financial implications of coronavirus could force their hand, with claims an offer in the region of £18 million would be accepted.
So, who exactly is Talles Magno?
Who is Talles Magno?
Name: Talles Magno
Club: Vasco da Gama
For many, Talles Magno Bacelar Martins will be an unknown quantity and a player who raises eyebrows for being labelled ‘the next Neymar’ – as we’ve been there before with a long list of players.
The 18-year-old is a product of Vasco – a club which provided the start for former Reds playmaker Philippe Coutinho – earning a trial as a nine-year-old before rapidly progressing through the age groups.
A dedicated student, a professional footballer in the making and an avid futsal player, Talles was able to juggle them all before signing his first pro deal in 2018.
His first-team debut would arrive soon after, with the then-16-year-old introduced off the bench for the final 32 minutes against Botafogo in Brazil’s Serie A, which made him Vasco’s youngest debutant this century.
His side would go on to lose 1-0, but he managed to catch the eye of manager Vanderlei Luxemburgo, who retained the youngster in his senior side moving forward.
A maiden campaign returned 15 top-flight appearances with a return of two goals as he rotated through the front three positions, and 2019 proved to be even more memorable for the youngster as he went on to win the Under-17 World Cup with Brazil.
He scored two goals in four appearances but was unable to feature from the quarter-final stage onwards, due to a hamstring injury in the round of 16 which also brought a premature end to his domestic season.
The new year would bring different challenges as he settled on the left side of attack to cater for the arrival of striker German Cano, only for the pandemic to suspend play – which has only just resumed.
Style of play
The highly rated teenager has 24 senior appearances and two goals to his name across all competitions and, as aforementioned, has rotated across all three forward positions within that period.
The left wing, however, is where he has seen the most action in the early stages of his fledgling career.
But it is his dribbling ability and his touch of showboating which has seen Talles likened to Neymar, with his Brazilian flair earning him admirers and the nickname ‘Magico’.
And while many like to associate up-and-comers with established players, South American football expert Tom Robinson, speaking on World Football Index‘s Scouting Spotlight podcast, was quick to say that “it is best to scrap all comparisons.”
The 18-year-old boasts a 6’1″ frame, is left-footed and is praised for his determination and work ethic alongside his obvious talent on the ball and “a really good footballing brain.”
“There is a very distinct style to him,” fellow expert Austin Miller said. “He is different to other people.
“He is surprisingly strong for his age, he is bigger than you might expect…maybe not fast but I think he is deceptively quick.”
But notably, the discussion around Talles is one which can be likened to Roberto Firmino at Liverpool: adept at creating space for others, manipulating it for himself and linking play.
The versatility and aerial ability he possesses does open a number of doors for him to provide an option across the forward line, with his finishing an area for improvement as he progresses in his career.
Could a deal happen?
The Reds are always on the lookout for the ‘next big thing’, with their youth approach being streamlined in recent years to prioritise quality over quantity.
And quality is something Talles certainly has in abundance.
Having previously kept tabs on Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo before the pair were snapped up by Real Madrid, the 18-year-old presents a chance for Liverpool to secure a young talent at the earliest stage without paying a premium.
With Vasco facing an uncertain financial situation, there is a deal to be done and the Reds are reported to have a “huge advantage” in a race that is claimed to include 12 other European clubs, with a fee of £18 million said to be the minimum required.
He would certainly be a long-term investment and one who could provide cover for Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Firmino in the short-term, and the latter could prove key to Talles’ settling-in period alongside fellow Brazilian compatriots in Alisson and Fabinho.
Being able to secure a work permit will be the key, however, with his senior status at Vasco and the transfer fee and wages required determining factors, in addition to his standing for Brazil at youth level.
The Reds are unlikely to be willing to enter a bidding war, but Talles presents an opportunity to further invest in the future – alongside the likes of Harvey Elliott, Ki-Jana Hoever and Sepp van den Berg – should they be confident of securing his permit to live and work in the UK.
But there is precedent for top prospects being granted work permits through appeal to the ‘Exceptions Panel’, with Richarlison passing through this route on his £11.5 million switch from Fluminense to Watford in 2017.
Like most signings, especially this summer, it will all come down to price, but securing the young Brazilian for an affordable fee would prove smart business as the Reds continue to plot for their future while building on current success.