Who is Lucas Paquetá and why does everyone want him?

5ft tall at 15, Lucas Paquetá looked destined to miss out on the increasingly physical professional game. A miraculous three years that saw him grow almost a foot taller propelled him from the fringes of his youth team to a fully-fledged Brazil youth international. I mean it wasn’t solely his height that got him there but it was an integral part of his development…

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He is good technically, very good. One of the best I have worked with, but he needs to develop physically if he wants to make the step up – Carlos Noval, former Head of Youth Development for Flamengo

Born in Rio de Janeiro, Lucas Paquetá advanced all the way through Flamengo’s youth set up from the minute he joined in 2007 as a ten-year-old. It was clear he was a special player, playing in two, even sometimes three age groups above his own. Deployed out on the right, his deft touches and incredibly low centre of gravity made it nigh impossible for defenders to get within a metre of him.

Now linked with the top clubs in Europe, the boy from Paquetá Island in Rio de Janeiro had perhaps been overshadowed by the gem that is Vinicius Júnior in the past, but with his departure to Los Blancos in Madrid, Paquetá has really come into his own. His deep driving runs and clinical touches in the final third have propelled a rather lacklustre Flamengo right up the table, fourth place to be exact.

Incredibly versatile, Lucas usually operates as an attacking midfielder, capable of playing out wide either side as well as a number nine, something we saw in the elongated absence of Peruvian Paolo Guerrero but Flamengo boss Maurício Barbieri likes to occasionally use Paquetá as a ball collector, his quality of distribution proving to be crucial in initiating attacks for the Rubro-Negro. His classy left foot and of course some of that Brazilian flair has the opposition back-pedalling before he’s even touched the ball.

Six goals and four assists in nineteen appearances so far for Flamengo and Lucas Paquetá has already provided double what he did last season as a naïve twenty-year-old. It’s fair to say that Lucas has come on leaps and bounds over the past season, getting named in the Seleção and appearing twice for his country, against El Salvador and the United States.

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“I think today is a day to be on the list of the happiest days of my life. I’m very happy. I need to thank my teammates and Flamengo, who gave me all the support to make this dream possible.”

The giants of Europe are ready to pounce on Flamengo’s number eleven. Philippe Coutinho demands Barcelona spend the £27m release clause, whilst Liverpool, as always, are looking to bolster their attacking options.

Whether or not he decides to depart Flamengo for Champions League football, Lucas Paquetá has everything it takes to perform at the highest level. Deployed as a deep-lying playmaker or a false nine, this lad has it all.

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