Matheus Fernandes joins on loan
Brazilian midfielder Matheus Fernandes has joined Real Valladolid on a loan agreement from Palmeiras, which will see him play the José Zorrilla until the end of the season before signing a permanent deal with Barcelona.
Born on June 30th 1998 in Itaboraí in Rio de Janeiro, Fernandes is primarily a central midfielder and was unveiled during a press conference on Tuesday. The 21-year-old has also played in the defensive midfielder role and on the right-hand side in a demonstration of his versatility.
He began his youth career with Botafogo in 2014 before getting his chance in the first team in January 2016. He went on to make 76 appearances in all competitions, scoring two goals and registering four assists.
At the beginning of 2019, he moved to Palmeiras but only managed eleven outings for the São Paulo outfit. However, his talent at winning possession and turning defence into attack has caught the eye of current La Liga Santander champions Barcelona, who moved during the winter transfer window to sign the starlet for an initial fee of €7 million which will generate an additional €3 million in add-ons. He will officially become a Barcelona player in July 1st of this year.
Fernandes has represented his country at both under-17 and under-20 level, making his debut on November 28th 2014 for coach Rogério Micale in a 4-0 win against Australia under-17. He played a further twice at this grade, before making the step up to under-20 level in 2016.
What can Real Valladolid expect from Fernandes when he takes the field for the blanquivioletas? In his article on SBNation, which can be found here, Mathew Cohen talks of Fernandes possessing attributes such as "unbelievable footwork. His impeccable first touch, ball control, and dribbling skills make him a reliable player to have on the ball. When without ball possession, Fernandes also has the sprint speed and reaction time required to swiftly recover any loose ball and launch an unexpected counter attack." In addition, Tom Robinson noted in 2017 - while composing a list of the Top 5 under-22 players in Brazil for the website that Outside of the Boot - that Fernandes was a "rangy, mobile midfielder with great tackling ability, plus the pace and ability to surge forward with the ball, Fernandes has similar qualities to Manchester City’s Fernandinho and is already attracting interest from Barcelona among others".
The Brazilian has opted to take the number 8 shirt, vacated by Anuar who is on loan at Panathanikos for the remainder of the campaign. It is unclear at this stage if he will go straight into the squad for Saturday’s match at home to Villarreal, however his presence would be beneficial due to the absence of Joaquín through injury.