One of the biggest signings to have slipped through Real Madrid's fingers is Neymar Santos Jr.
The Brazilian superstar admitted to being a Real Madrid fan during his childhood. He was set to sign for them as a teenager but the move fell through due to contractual issues (as per Goal).
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez was evidently upset at the time about missing out on the precocious talent as a teenager. He has since been on a mission to find and sign young and skilled teenagers who could become the "New Neymar" at the Bernabeau.
In the search, Madrid have signed a handful of talented and skilled teenage attacking players. They have also been linked with 16-year-old prodigy Endrick Felipe, who is another potential superstar from Brazil.
This article will look at the players signed by Real Madrid in hopes that one of them will become the "New Neymar."
#1. Vinicius Junior
The biggest success story of this undertaking, Vinicius Jr., looks set to be the "New Neymar" not only for Real Madrid but for the Brazilian national team as well. He penned a contract with 'Los Blancos' in 2017 as a 17-year-old but had to wait a year before making the move.
Initially sent to Castilla by then-manager Julen Lopetegui, Vinicius soon showed that he was too good for academy ball. By December of the same year, he was a full-time first-team member.
The Brazilian had a frustrating run during his first three seasons and many fans demanded that he be sold. In that period, he played 118 times across multiple competitions but only scored 14 goals while assisting 23.
Under Carlo Ancelotti, the winger turned over a new leaf in the 2021-22 season. He scored 22 goals and 20 assists in 52 appearances across competitions as Madrid lifted the La Liga and UCL titles. Vinicius scored the only goal in the Champions League final as the club lifted their 14th Champions League trophy.
Rodrygo, too, was signed as a 17-year-old in 2018 but had to wait a year to complete the international transfer.
He too was sent to Castilla for a couple of games but was in the senior squad by September. While he prefers playing on the left, he was chiefly used on the right-wing. The presence of Gareth Bale and Marco Asensio on the right-wing meant that chances were hard to come by for the Brazilian.
Rodrygo has an outstanding record in the Champions League. Last season, he scored two goals in the dying moments of the semi-final's second against Manchester City to draw Real Madrid level on aggregate. Madrid went on to complete a miraculous comeback and eventually won the trophy. Overall, Rodrygo has 17 goal contributions in 27 UCL appearances.
But he has been rather subdued in domestic competitions. Rodrygo bagged just 8 goals and 14 assists in 81 appearances across domestic competitions.
#3. Reinier Jesus
Reinier, the third and final Brazilian was signed in January 2020 at the age of 18 and was immediately sent to Castilla. Unlike the two names mentioned above, he could not break into the first team.
He was then sent to Borussia Dortmund on loan after half a season with Castilla.
Real Madrid have had Achraf Hakimi develop brilliantly while on loan at the Yellow Blacks and something along those lines was expected to happen with Reinier. However, quite the opposite happened.
The Brazilian has failed to string together a consistent run, making only 39 appearances in all competitions and tallying a goal and an assist across two seasons.
The emergence of the likes of Giovanni Reyna and Jude Bellingham, combined with the presence of Marco Reus, Julian Brandt, and Thorgan Hazard, meant that Reinier barely made it onto the pitch.
He is currently with Real Madrid and is expected to be loaned out before the season starts. The attacking midfielder will hope to make a mark with his new club and earn a place in the Los Blancos first team.
#4. Takefusa Kubo
Signed from FC Tokyo, Kubo was heralded as the ’Japanese Messi’ because he was at La Masia for four years. That in itself gave Real Madrid some bragging rights over Barcelona. How the player has fared since the move as an 18-year-old in June 2019 has been no bragging matter for the club.
Without playing any official games for either Castilla or the senior side, he was sent on loan to Mallorca in the same transfer window. Loans to Villarreal, Getafe and Mallorca again followed over the next couple of seasons. The Japan international failed to grab attention at any of those clubs, making 103 appearances and tallying 8 goals and 12 assists for the three La Liga outfits across competitions.
Los Blancos seem to have given up on Kubo at the moment. He returned to the club in 2022, but Madrid sold him to Real Sociedad.
#5. Brahim Diaz
Real Madrid probably saw something special in Diaz, given how much they pursued him. Los Blancos agreed to a deal potentially worth €24 million in January 2019 for a 19-year-old whose contract would have expired in June anyway. So far, Manchester City look to have gotten the better end of that deal.
Diaz did show glimpses of his talent, and a section of fans even wanted him to start over Vinicius during the latter’s aforementioned frustrating period. Zinedine Zidane did not share those sentiments, and Diaz made only 21 appearances for Real Madrid across competitions in one-and-a-half seasons, scoring two goals.
He joined AC Milan on loan in the 2020 summer transfer window. He had a good 2020-21 season with the 'Rossoneri,' bagging 11 goal contributions in all competitions. AC Milan signed him on a further two-year loan with an option to buy. His numbers dropped slightly (eight contributions), but he was still a key figure as Milan lifted the Scudetto.
With the departures of Bale and Isco and the failed pursuit of Kylian Mbappe, Real Madrid are reportedly considering cutting short the Spaniard’s loan and bringing him back.
#6. Martin Odegaard, bought by Arsenal from Real Madrid
Real Madrid’s youngest debutant and their first signing in search of a "new Neymar." Odegaard was signed in January 2015 when he was barely 16-years-old. He made his debut in the last league game of the season. He played only one more senior game for Real Madrid, in 2016-17, before embarking on a four-year loan journey.
The attacking midfielder, who started off as a winger/wide-midfielder, went on loan to SC Herenveen, Vitesse Arnhem and Real Sociedad. He made significant progress in his game during these spells and his return to Madrid for the 2020-21 season was met with a lot of hype. He could not break up the trio of Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, and Casemiro.
He featured in only nine games that season until January, when Arsenal picked him up on loan. 'The Gunners' made the deal permanent during the next summer transfer window.