A bargain. The signing of Marcos Paulo by Atlético de Madrid may be one of these businesses that, in a few years, will be difficult to explain. Versatile forward, he can play as a ‘9’ or on the wings. He is 20 years old, with a community passport, experience of almost three years in the starting team of Fluminense, one of the most important clubs in Brazil and where stars like Marcelo and Thiago Silva, for example, came from. He was international first with the inferiors of Brazil and now with Portugal (his grandfather is Portuguese). He has talent, personality, pedigree and experience in the professional team of one of the biggest clubs in Brazil. A combination of factors that should result in a millionaire sale for the training team. But what, pDue to the circumstances of the pandemic, it ended up falling from the skies, free of charge, into the arms of Atlético de Madrid.
Marcos Paulo was born in São Gonçalo de Vinícius Jr., on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. He arrived as a child at the Fluminense quarry where almost immediately he became one of the great promises of the lower categories of the country. He was called up for the U-15, U-17 and U-18 when he was still playing as a center forward and was the jewel in Fluminense’s crown, which signed his first professional contract with him at the age of 17 and with a termination fine of € 45M.
He led the so-called “Golden Generation” Sub-17 (born in 2001-02) of Fluminense that won the Carioca Championship and was runner-up in the Brazil Cup in 2018. He scored 17 goals in 14 games that season, few games because he was called up to the inferiors of Brazil and for the parties of the professional tricolor team. As in his team there was also another great talent, João Pedro, a pure striker who ended up sold to Watford as soon as he turned 18, Fluminense decided to move Marcos Paulo to the band, as a winger. At first it took a little adaptation, but the boy returned a few months later to his best level.
It would be the most expensive transfer in the history of Fluminense
Fluminense was so in love with Marcos Paulo that he decided to sell João Pedro first, thinking about the potential value his teammate would have in the near future. The € 45M clause was the ace in the tricolor’s sleeve that he thought with closing his transfer in 2020 for some € 25M to € 30M. Almost double the biggest transfer in the club’s history, that of Gerson to Rome for € 17M.
The plan was perfect. In 2019, they both moved up to the professional level and, although João Pedro (already sold) started better, Marcos Paulo was the big name of the team at the end of the season, helping to save the historic Rio club from relegation.
Marcos Paulo entered 2020 as one of the great promises of Brazilian football. It was time to sell him. But the pandemic came. The market deflated. The offers that arrived were not even close to what the club was looking for, which, from a moment, began to desperately try to renew him, since his contract ended in the summer of 2021.
It was there that the relationship between the representatives of the footballer and the club went through moments of great tension. The boy happened to have fewer opportunities in the starting team, the bad vibes were evident. In December of last year the Fluminense desperately tried to sell Torino and CSKA Moscow, shortly before the final six months of the contract, but the business did not go out.
The strategic final onslaught of Atleti
It turns out that Atlético de Madrid was closely following the entire soap opera around Marcos Paulo’s contractual situation. So much that On the first day that the player was free to negotiate with another club, the offer came from the colchoneros and quickly there was an agreement for him to go to Madrid for free this summer.
“The intention of Marcos Paulo and his representatives was not to go free, they have tried to give the club some kind of financial compensation. But the reality of the pandemic spoiled the plans and, in the end, the opportunity to go to Atlético was irrefutable“, Explain Felipe Siqueira, Globo Esporte reporter covering Fluminense daily. “The ways in which he will leave the club have left a bad taste in the mouth, mainly among the fans, because there was a huge expectation that he would be the most expensive sale in the club’s history. In the end, he has not been able to play what he would like in his last season and it came out in a way that nobody expected ”, says Felipe Siqueira.
Now Marcos Paulo is already a player for Atlético de Madrid. It comes free and it could be Simeone’s big bet as a kicker from the bench for next season.