The 19-year-old forward arrives at the Camp Nou from Sao Paolo having never made a first team appearance but with an impressive scoring record and titles already under his belt.
After wrapping up the signing of Gustavo Maia from São Paulo FC, Barcelona have yet another teenage talent to start feeling excited about. Following the recent acquisitions of Pedri and Francisco Trincão and the emergence of Ansu Fati, Riqui Puig and Ronald Araújo from their La Masia academy, Maia is the latest youngster who directors at the Catalan club believe can shape Barça’s future.
Maia is a 19-year-old Brazilian forward, who has been signed for a total of €4.5m. After Barcelona paid an initial €1m to São Paulo FC in order to secure a preferential option to buy the player, they decided to pay the remaining €3.5m to bring him to Catalonia as they have been so impressed by his rise through the academy. Not only that, but Barcelona have inserted a huge €300m release clause in his contract to ward off any potential suitors.
Born in Brazil’s capital Brasilia, Maia made the move to Brazil’s largest city at the age of 14. Since making it through three separate trials to enter the São Paulo FC academy, he has impressed by displaying speed, skill and versatility. While Maia is right-footed, his preferred position is on the left of attack, often cutting inside in the style of Barcelona and LaLiga great David Villa. However, he has demonstrated that he can perform and get the job done in any one of the attacking positions. That’s exactly the kind of player Barcelona have looked for over the course of the club’s modern history.
Looking at the numbers, the forward’s time in the Tricolor’s academy was productive. He won seven titles during his years at that level – the U15 Copa Brasil Votorantim in 2016, the U16 Aspire Tri-Series, U17 Taça BH, U17 Salvador Cup and U17 Copa Ouro in 2017, and then the U17 FAM Cup and U17 J-League Challenge Cup in 2018. The 2018 season was particularly productive for Maia, netting 30 goals in 36 games.
He later participated in the Copinha, the main youth tournament in the state of São Paulo, and once again caught the attention of the various scouts who were looking on. By scoring an excellent goal against Coritiba, where he chested the ball onto the ground and then thundered it in from distance on the half-volley. He was nominated for the Prêmio Dener, the award for the tournament’s best goal.
While Maia never actually made a senior appearance for São Paulo FC, he did spend his final months at the club training with Fernando Diniz’s first-team squad and even made the first-team bench. This meant he was able to work with and learn from players with experience of LaLiga, namely Juanfran, Alexandre Pato and former Barcelona right-back Dani Alves.
Then, just as it was looking like the teenager would make his senior debut, the coronavirus pandemic hit. Maia never was able to take to the pitch for the Tricolor’s first team, but he has been working hard during these months of lockdown with a personal trainer and has been taking Spanish lessons too in anticipation of a move to Spain.
With Barcelona confident enough in his abilities, Maia will start out with the Barça B team in the third tier but arrives with his sights fixed on becoming the 31st Brazilian to represent the Blaugrana in LaLiga Santander.