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Why Chelsea, Man Utd and Barcelona are chasing Neymar lookalike Neilton

In Santos teen Neilton, you fancy the Brazilian scouts of Manchester United and Chelsea see their chance for redemption.

Before Neymar's famous trials at Real Madrid as a 16 year-old, both United and Chelsea representatives had failed in attempts to convince his father about moving to England. At 15, Neymar was being courted by Chelsea, United and Real, but by his own admission, the now global star couldn't contemplate moving away from his family.

Neilton, who sports a shaggy mohican haircut like Neymar and possesses his same pace and trickery, is now the focus of United and Chelsea.

"Is he just like me? No, he can make his own path," said Neymar.

"He's a great kid, a good person and has everything to be No1."

Neymar was speaking after seeing Neilton hit a hat-trick against Palmeiras in the Copa Sao Paulo Under-19 competition last month. It was during that tournament, Neilton came to the attention of Premier League scouts.

United are keeping a watching brief, but Santos sources say they expect Chelsea to make a serious bid for the recently turned 19 year-old.

"He played a great game," said Neymar after visiting the locker room following the victory over Palmeiras. "I had to find Neilton and congratulate him."

Neilton admits being flattered by the attention coming his way, both from the local and global media, but is eager to avoid comparisons with Neymar.

"Neymar is the inspiration for all the young players here," he says. "But we know that there is no comparison. He is a great player, is a winner and can be the best player in the world.

"There is no way to compare myself to him."

Though he adds, with smile: "They say that my skill and speed resemble a bit with his features, but there is no way to compare. Only my face and hair are alike!"

Neilton backed up his landmark hat-trick game with a goal in the final as Santos defeated Goais to win the Copa Sao Paulo.

The midfielder is now training with Muricy Ramalho's senior squad and knows things will come to a head in the coming months. With Chelsea and United following his progress, Santos face a decision with Neilton's contract now inside it's final 18 months.

"I want to keep my feet on the ground, always be humble, work hard.

"I'll now work even harder for an opportunity to appear in the senior team," he adds.

Santos youth coach Oliveira Claudinei is confident Neilton will stay grounded.

"Neymar is unmatched today. Neilton must seek his space and continuity, as Neymar does. He must keep scoring goals, creating assists. It's no use to play two, three games well and then falling to produce.

"But he has good head and is disciplined," reasoned Claudinei.

Despite the interest from England, ff Santos do fail to extend Neilton's contract, there's no guarantee he will end up in the Premier League. The winger's form has also brought him to the attention of Barcelona, where he spent a week last month.

The Neymar comparison is no exaggeration as sharp-eyed fans began tweeting the senior Brazil star was training with Barca! The experience made a big impression on Neilton, who happily tweeted photos of himself with countrymen Daniel Alves and Adriano. Although, interestingly he first visited the complex sporting England national team gear.

Should he get a move to Europe, no-one will be happier for Neilton than Neymar: "Neilton is a big boy. He has everything to be a great soccer star.

"I'm happy for him because he's a good boy, a great player. He has a lot of talent. I hope he can keep playing this beautiful football."

Chris Beattie
About the author

Chris Beattie

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