Due to FIFA rules, exciting Brazilian talents are not allowed to leave their country until they turn 18. So when Wellington Silva scored four goals in 45 minutes during an under 16s game while on trial at Arsenal – and in the process sparked a mass scramble for his signature, despite being just 15 at the time – there was a problem.
Along with Arsenal he was also courted by other top clubs such as Real Madrid, Barcelona and Chelsea. But due to his age they knew they would have to wait for a few years before signing him up. But there is always a way around the rules.
The Fluminense striker, who turned 17 last month, signed for the Gunners at the end of last year. But he is only 65% owned by the North London club at the moment – the remaining 35% ownership will be activated in January 2011 when Silva turns 18 and is eligible for a move.
Arsenal fans should be eagerly awaiting that time because the Rio de Janeiro born star has been leaving defenders in his wake since he was an eight-year-old escaping from poverty to join Fluminense. He started off as a promising right-winger but was quickly turned into a centre-forward during his teens and he went on to regularly score double figures in 90 minutes.
In 2007, Wellington appeared in the Manchester United Premier Cup – a tournament which included under 15s teams from all over the world – and he came away with the ‘Player of the Tournament’ and ‘Most Valuable Player’ awards.
But it was the following year when he was invited for that trial in North London that the world’s elite clubs really started to take notice of this youngster’s precocious talent. During a match at Norwich City for Steve Gatting’s young side Silva was brought on as a half-time substitute and his quad-strike gave Arsenal a 7-1 victory.
But Fluminense resisted the temptation to sell their brightest young star and he was called into the first team squad. Despite this promotion his under-16 form continued and he bagged an incredible 51 goals in 19 appearances for his youth side. He also turned out for his national team in the under-17 World Cup.
In the end, due to his Serie A side’s financial problems, Arsene Wenger landed Silva and the Gunners’ faithful can now look forward to seeing his awesome technique and blistering pace at the Emirates in 2011.