sports

Kayky: the Brazilian football prodigy on his way to Manchester City


Kayky is one of the hottest properties in Brazilian football. The 17-year-old signed for Manchester City last month and will join up with his new teammates next January after he finishes the season with Fluminense. He has already made his mark in Brazil, scoring goals for Fluminense in the Rio state championships, and becoming the club’s youngest debutant and youngest goalscorer in the Copa Libertadores.

The transfer marks a shift in approach for the Premier League champions. Manchester City are now going down the Real Madrid route of snapping up young talents from Brazil before they have fully developed. The club have also signed 18-year-old midfielder Diego Rosa – who is currently on loan at Lommel, City’s sister club in Belgium – and the U17 World Cup-winning right-back Yan Couto, who has been sent on loan to Girona, another club under the City umbrella. While Real Madrid paid £40m to sign Vinicius Jr and £39m for Rodrygo, City seem to have pulled off a bargain, handing over an initial £8m for Kayky, with add-ons depending on how he progresses.

The teenager, who can play on either wing but tends to start on the right and cut inside on his left foot – hence the moniker “the left-footed Neymar” – has realised the dream of most Brazilian teenagers. But, according to his parents Demir and Monica, his heart was initially set on another profession. “He has always wanted to be a paediatrician but, because he was a hyperactive child, we wished for him to spend his energy by practising a sport. As he always went to the football stadium with his father since he was two years old, he ended up becoming enchanted by football and his birthday gifts started to become balls, kits and themed parties.”

Kayky’s talent was spotted by a family friend who saw him in action for his school and advised his parents to take him to Fluminense for a trial. But the season was already getting underway and the club had filled their spaces, so that door closed. Kayky’s father Demir mentioned his predicament to a friend at a local bar and the man mentioned that his son was playing for a team in Mangueira – a social project set up on the site of the Olympic Village for the Games in 2016. Demir and Kayky went there and found a home.

Kayky passed his trial with flying colours and was enrolled in the Mangueira Under-9s team. As fate would have it, his first game was against Fluminense. He scored a hat-trick in a 5-3 win and impressed the Flu coaches so much that they signed him right away.

Success came quickly at Flu, where he won several futsal titles as he progressed through their academy. “Year after year he evolved on and off the field, maturing as a person and football player,” says Guilherme Torres, his Under-17s coach at Flu. “For his performances last season and all the conquests of the Under-17 team, new challenges and opportunities sprung up in life. The club understood that Kayky had hit a level of maturity to experience professional football in a competitive way, though we’re also aware that he still has a great margin of evolution and adaptation to reach professional football at the highest level.”

How a Brazilian prodigy will turn out once he crosses the Atlantic is anyone’s guess, but his parents believe he has the maturity required for such a big step. They attribute his success so far to his “focus and determination”, saying he has “always been very dedicated to achieving his goals and surpassing them”. Monica and Demir say their son is already taking English lessons to help smoothen their adaptation.

Kayky celebrates after scoring for Fluminense in the Copa Libertadores.
Kayky celebrates after scoring for Fluminense in the Copa Libertadores. Photograph: Santiago Arcos/EPA

Though they could not afford to buy a car to drive him to games, relying instead on lifts and public transport, Kayky’s parents – and particularly his grandmother, who took care of him while they were working and made his food before and after training – have been pivotal in his trajectory. “We always support and encourage him in pursuit of his dreams, eating well, sleeping early, depriving himself of several things to achieve his dream,” they say.

His parents are proud of their son and not just because of his success on the field. He is a good student who has always achieved top grades, and he is settled with a girlfriend, and enjoys family outings and going to the beach in his downtime.

For Kayky, repaying his family for their support and giving them the life they deserve has always been his primary motivation. “I always dreamed of being able to help my family,” he says. “It was a dream I had since I was a child, of providing a better future for everyone who helped me get where I am. It motivated me greatly. It gave me a lot of strength in my daily life.” Every time he scores, he pays homage to his father Demir with his “moustache” goal celebration.

Kayky says he is surprised that he has achieved so much at his age “even though I believe in myself as much as I do”. “I’m so happy that, so young, I can already help my team and have a great season with Fluminense. Senior players such as Fred and Nenê have helped a lot and have been giving me a lot of good advice on the pitch – such as where to position myself.”

Fluminense have played a big part in his development too. “I have always had an excellent relationship with Kayky,” says Torres. “I knew him for many years, even before I was his coach. We also have a very active psychological, educational and social department at our academy to help the boys. During the period I was with him, I tried to make him reflect on where he would like to go in his career and what he should rely on to reach that goal. We always sought to evolve certain aspects of his game, such as the ability to finish and score goals, for example. I have always tried to be a positive reference for him, by collaborating with him on his personal and professional development.”

“We have been talking recently about what has been happening in his life. After his goal against Nova Iguaçu, he was at Xerém [Fluminense’s academy] and we had the opportunity to talk about the dynamism of his football and the transformations that are taking place in his life. I will always be cheering for him to become a great player and a positive reference for the next kids of Xerém.

“Kayky stands out for his intelligence, technical ability and speed in his actions. His main virtues are control of the ball, dribbling and powerful finishing. I have not seen a change in his football, but rather an adaptation to the context of the professional game, where he needs to read, think and act more quickly to escape the physical impact of stronger and more experienced players. He is managing to adapt more and more to this context game after game.”

All this then will serve him well playing under one of football’s most demanding managers, in one of its most demanding leagues.





READ SOURCE

Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.  Learn more