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Manchester United and Arsenal are vying to sign Yuri Alberto, the latest Brazilian wonderkid coming off Santos' production line, according to The Sun.

The Premier League duo had scouts run the rule over the gifted 16-year-old when England Under-18s hosted their Brazilian counterparts at Shrewsbury Town's Montgomery Waters Meadow in September, having been alerted to the youngster's talent.

In light of Real Madrid forking out a staggering £39.7million to sign 16-year-old Vinícius Júnior from Flamengo earlier this year, Santos are said to have slapped a £37.5million price tag on Alberto, who is yet to make an appearance at senior level.

But if the teenager can come close to emulating Santos alumni Neymar's achievements in Europe, rather than the likes of Robinho, Diego and Gabriel “Gabigol” Barbosa, who were all tipped for stardom yet struggled to varying degrees after big moves, he'll be worth every penny.

Currently helping Brazil in their quest for glory at the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in India, Alberto has caught the eye of several major clubs in Europe, including Inter Milan, AC Milan and Roma. But any cross-continental move will have to wait  until the summer of 2019, as FIFA regulations prevent such switches for players aged under 18.

However, that doesn't stop United or the Gunners from being able to agree a deal for the youngster now, securing his services for the near future before his already hefty price tag rises yet further.

Alberto plays as a striker in the Santos youth team, and scored an incredible 51 goals in just 35 games last season. Although not lightening-quick, he has plenty of pace, is a strong runner and a deadly finisher when in sight of goal.

Standing at 5ft 9ins and still growing, the teenager has broad shoulders and impressive upper-body strength, enabling him to shield the ball and hold off the attention of defenders.

Yuri Alberto

The above image, taken from an under-17 game between Brazil and Venezuela earlier this year, shows Alberto receive the ball in the right channel. He immediately makes a beeline for goal but faces a challenge from the back-tracking defender.

Yuri Alberto

Breaking into the penalty area, Alberto holds off the challenge while maintaining his balance, control and poise, despite the fact that his opponent is considerably bigger than him and looking to muscle him off the ball.

Yuri Alberto

Alberto's upper-body strength is such that, not only does he keep the defender at bay, he forces his marker to lose his balance. From there, the Brazilian striker finishes coolly, picking out the far corner of the net with aplomb.

Although timing runs in behind the opposition's defence and scoring is unquestionably one of Alberto's major strengths, he is far more than a straight-lines centre-forward.

In fact, in time, his ideal role might well be as a false nine with pacy runners around him. The 16-year-old has such an astute understanding of how to drop off the front line to find space, and is so adept at linking with colleagues from there, that he could be devastating as a roaming, deep-lying front man.

Yuri Alberto

In the above image, from the same game against Venezuela, we see Alberto coming deep to receive the ball inside his own half. As a centre-forward, this kind of movement forces opposing defenders to make a decision over whether to let him go and afford him space, or go with him and leave space in behind for a team-mate to exploit. As we see here, as soon as he received the ball he gets his head up to survey his options.

Yuri Alberto

Spotting the run of a colleague from the left wing, Alberto looks to split the Venezuela defence with through-ball, creating a scoring chance for his team-mate.

Yuri Alberto

This time, against Chine, we see Alberto drop five yards off the front line as Brazil are pressing to regain possession. Once more, he has managed to escape the attention of his marker to find a pocket of space in a dangerous area.

Yuri Alberto

His team-mate wins the ball back and quickly looks for a one-two with Alberto. The Santos man is switched on to the developing situation and plays a perfectly-weighted one-touch pass into his colleague's path, splitting the Chinese defence apart.

Though right-footed, Alberto is a lethal finisher with his weaker left foot too, and is surprisingly good in the air, able to pick out the corner of the goal with his head or contest aerial challenges in deeper situations to link play.

He is also tremendously unselfish, as the above examples show. With his pace and dribbling ability – which is not as refined as that of a young Neymar, but dynamic and direct nonetheless – Alberto can transform games with his appreciation of how to find and exploit space from just in front of the defence or in either channel.

Despite being on the radar of some of Europe's foremost clubs, Alberto is not thinking of leaving Brazil any time soon, and is fully focussed on first succeeding with Santos.

“It’s marvellous to know that people are following my progress from so far away,” he said in an interview earlier this year. “I heard talk of great clubs observing me and without doubt it is my dream one day to find success abroad.

“However, I am only 16 years old and have a journey to complete at Santos first. I want to be called up to the full team, score loads of goals and win the title.”

 

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