REAL Madrid have never been shy at spending money but even by their own extravagant standards, spending £38million on a kid aged just 16 is going some.
Vinicius Junior is the Brazilian boy wonder with the world at his feet after signing for the biggest club in the world from Flamengo.
Not since the breakthrough of Neymar over ten years ago has a player caught the imagination of the Brazilian public as much as the Flamengo’s striker.
Keep up-to-date with all the latest transfer news and gossip ahead of the January window with SunSport’s daily LIVE blog
And after catching the eye at the Copa Sao Paulo – Brazil’s most famous youth tournament – Real Madrid have won the race for Junior’s signature.
And they didn’t waste any time by spending £38million to bring him to the Bernabeu – £10million more than Manchester City paid for Gabriel Jesus.
Vinicius’ story is a common one for Brazilian footballers.
Born into abject poverty, he was spotted playing on the street of Sao Goncalo, a city just outside Rio de Janeiro.
He was singled out as a potential superstar aged just five, signed by Flamengo at the age of ten and made his Under-15s debut just three years later.
He lived with his two brothers and parents at his grandmother’s house – although there was never a shortage of food.
Vinicius used to take two buses to get to Flamengo’s training centre, and was described by coaches as quite and shy.
A 14, he moved in with his uncle in the centre of Rio, so he could more easily dedicate himself to his new life and made his way through the youth team ladder.
“His father came to us when he was just five and ever since he has always performed at a level way above the boys of his age,” said Cacau, a teacher at Escolinha Fla Sao Goncalo, the Flamengo-affiliated school that raised Vinicius.
“A curious thing about Vinicius is that, if we let him, he would have trained with every age group.
He just never seemed to tire. To this day, he comes back and visits us, bringing his medals and sharing his experiences with the children.”
Cacau told Goal.com: “We really admire the fact that he always comes back here. ”
Vinicius burst onto the scene superb fashion, when he opened the scoring during a match in the Classico against Botafogo during the Rio de Janeiro junior Cup in October last year.
Globoesporte explains that, despite receiving huge billing in the build-up the match, until that point, the only thing of any note had been the fact he was wearing bright green boots, which made him stand out.
But it took just two quick touches for the crowd take this boy seriously.
With the scores level, Vinicius anticipated a situation to get in front of two defenders and to set his side up for a 3-0 victory and qualification for the semi-finals.
Quick with a dribble, accurate with a pass and with the ball at his feet has been described as “the complete player”.
He is confident in his own ability, too.
Describing the goal against Botafogo, he said: “I stumbled and managed to score despite not playing well.”
His ability is not in question — it appears all that that stands in the way of superstardom is his attitude.
There are still some concerns surrounding his partying lifestyle, despite his young age.
He is a regular in the Brazil youth set-ups, and was runner up for the Golden Boot in the Under-15s South American Championships in 2015 with six goals.
But his four strikes took him one better in the Under-17s BRICs Cup in India 12 months on — despite having only recently turned 16.
He made his debut for Flamengo on 13 May, as an 82nd minute substitute against Atletico Mineiro.
Two days later he extended his contract with the Rio club until 2022, with a buyout clause of £38million.
A week later it was confirmed he will move to Real Madrid for that fee in July 2018, but will stay another year at Flamengo and move permanently to Madrid in 2019.
It is the first transfer Real Madrid have announced since the end of their ban on signing players, imposed by Fifa as punishment for breaching rules over the transfer of foreign players under the age of 18.
And if he can shine at Real Madrid, then even the great Neymar himself could be given a run for his money in future El Clasicos.