Before I start this, let me introduce myself to you: I am Ricardo, 21, advertiser, from São Paulo, Brazil. Football is my life. I support São Paulo FC, but learned to love the most beautiful club of them all. Amsterdamsche Football Club Ajax. I run a Twitter account about Ajax in Portuguese with my good friend Leandro Costa (@godenzonenbr). I’m here to tell you guys a little bit about the new signing of Ajax: David Neres.
Neres has been drawing attention for a long time now. He’s considered one of the greatest exponents of the São Paulo youth academy, and the biggest hope of the Tricolor in 2017. Or at least, he was.
David Neres Campos (born 3 March 1997 in São Paulo) is a right-winger. He came to São Paulo in 2007 and came up through the ranks of all youth teams of the club – and stood out in all of them. Neres has great technique and is a skillful player. He showed his best in São Paulo’s U20 team, especially in 2015, when he won the Copa Ouro (Gold Cup), Copa do Brasil (Brazilian Cup) and Copa Ipiranga (Rio Grande do Sul Cup). Neres was arguably the best SPFC youth player in that year. He appeared in 63 of the 66 U20 games, managed 19 assists and scored 24 goals.
Caio Alves, journalist at Alambrado.net and specialist in youth football, praises the young starlet: “[David Neres] emerged in the São Paulo youth system, when he made a great partnership with Lucas Fernandes [now in SPFC first team]. He won a lot of titles in 2015 and was the leading figure in all of them.”
While the success of Neres in 2015 was outrageous, 2016 was a year of stabilization. He played an important role in the conquest of the Copa Libertadores U20 (equivalent of the UEFA Youth League), a huge achievement for him. But the young talent went through tough times following that tournament. A severe shoulder injury kept him sidelined for six months. Catastrophic. He was unable to compete in the Copa Paulista (São Paulo State Cup), a minor professional state championship in which São Paulo played with a U23 squad.
— Niels Wigbold (@NielsWigbold) January 31, 2017
After fully recovering from his injury, David Neres was granted a shot at first team action. It was at a time when São Paulo were close to relegation, probably the worst moment in the history of the club. In an away game against Fluminense, with SPFC trailing 1-0, Neres came on in the 60th minute and made an immediate impact. The youngster played with flair as if he had been part of the team for years, guiding São Paulo to a 1-2 win and out of the danger zone
Neres, very shy, said in a interview after the game: “I dedicate this victory to São Paulo. The club doesn’t deserve to be in the position that they are in. It’s all about São Paulo.” Then, calmer, he stated: “At first I was a little nervous, because it was my first team debut. But I felt a lot of confidence from the people at the club. I tried to do my best.”
In the first game after his debut, the Tricolor hosted Ponte Preta in Morumbi (São Paulo’s stadium). Neres was a starter. In the first half, anxiety. In the second half, madness. The first goal as a professional. Morumbi went berzerk. Our new hope had scored! The shyness of that first interview was gone.
I was there. I saw Neres’ first goal. I couldn’t believe it. After the game, Neres said: “I am really thankful to score a goal for São Paulo in a packed Morumbi. I was nervous to debut as a starter, but everthing worked out for me. I’d like to dedicate this goal to São Paulo. Everything I do here, I dedicate to São Paulo.”
Neres’ gratitude was something out of this world. The boy, who grew up in Cotia’s training center (São Paulo’s youth facility) and dreamt of playing for São Paulo, had made it. And we were there to witness that moment. After that, the youngster appeared in six more games and scored twice; one against São Paulo’s biggest rivals Corinthians in a memorable 4-0 win, and another one in a 5-0 win over Santa Cruz, a side who had already relegated to the Série B.
The legendary Rogério Ceni, the greatest idol in the history of São Paulo and now our head coach, was planning on promoting Neres to the starting XI for next season. But how things have changed. Neres is an Ajax player now. The Amsterdam side wanted him so bad they accepted a massive €12 million transfer fee. But what can Ajax expect from him?
Leandro Costa, journalist at Gazeta Esportiva and 50% of @godenzonenbr, is delighted with the transfer: “If Neres’ performances in the São Paulo first team are a sign of things to come, his future in the Netherlands is bright. Of course he’ll need time to adapt to a new country and a new style of football. The Ajax style of football. However, he is a pure and raw talent. He’s hungry to show what he’s capable of as soon as possible. How many players score three goals in their first eight games as a professional, one of which was against the club’s biggest rivals? Oh that’s right, a certain Danish striker comes to mind..”
David Neres is one of the best U20 Brazilian players, and now he’ll have the opportunity to play in Europe. While he might be young and inconsistent, which really is normal for a 19-year-old, he’s very talented. Neres was raised in São Paulo Futebol Clube. He’s a Tricolor fan, but he’s ready to become a true Ajacied. Ajax fans: David Neres is Brazilian football at it’s finest. You can expect the very best.