Think back five years — remember who you were as a person. Would you say you have changed? New perspectives, greater maturity, lessons learned; many reading this would probably suggest they are a radically different person than who they were five years ago. That radical change only heightens in early adulthood. Going from 18 to 23 to 28 to 33 — there is a massive step change from where you start to where you finish. What is my point in saying all this? Real Madrid’s reported new signing, Brazilian sensation Endrick, will be 18-years-old when he joins the club in the summer of 2024. At 18, Endrick will be a teenager — a kid with a brain still maturing and developing. Yet, this young kid, has already got the weight of expectations on his shoulders: just today MARCA published a piece suggesting Madrid have “chosen” Endrick over Erling Haaland and that the Brazilian will come to start alongside his compatriots Vinicius and Rodrygo.
A 16-year-old with a handful of professional games under his belt was selected over Erling Haaland who has scored 137 goals in 129 matches over the last three and a half seasons. No pressure, right? The truth is Endrick was a battle for a talent Madrid had to win after losing out on both Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland, but what can be realistically expected of him upon arrival in 2024? Juni Calafat and his team will have complied extensive reports and analysis on the player, judging his potential to be worthy of the €62 million price tag, but even if Endrick goes on to be a player of the highest caliber, a multi-Champions League winning and Ballon D’or podium player, the expectations of him at 18 should be tempered.
Let’s look at historical context. Real Madrid have two perfect case studies in winger/striker type Brazilians with high potential that were brought over for big money at the age of 18 — Vinicius and Rodrygo. Couple that duo’s data with other winger/striker types that have managed to consistently play for Real Madrid as a teenager (Raul, Jese) as well as player comps like Adriano and Romario (both of whom Endrick has been stylistically linked to), and then lastly layering in generational talents like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappe, and Erling Haaland — you can get a window into what to expect from an 18-year-old Endrick on a best case scenario:
Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland have earned a different shade simply because they have warped public perception of what an 18-year-old can achieve at the highest level. They are anomalies, statistical variances that not even Cristiano or Messi hit. If we exclude those two unicorns, the above data set gives us a platform to theorize what a first season for Endrick may look like:
— Likely play 1,500-2,000 minutes (core starters usually average 3,500 minutes), playing around 30 matches and starting ~40% of Madrid’s total games in the league and UCL (15-20 starts)
— Goal output: 8-10 goals
— Assist output: 5-6 assists
— Per 90 NP xG + xA: .40-.50
If Endrick comes close to these metrics or even surpasses them, his first season should be deemed as a wild success. The expectation should not be for an 18-year-old to come in and start for the biggest club in the world and hit the ground running — regardless of name and talent. Even if the Brazilian’s talent suggests he should be starting every game, I would argue the best thing to do would be gradually integrate him — preserve that talent and prevent early burnout (mentally more so than physically), to enjoy him for a decade or more.
There is no way to truly map out Endrick’s first season projections and the above logic can be flawed, but the message is more around perception. Endrick may well become the best player in the world, but he doesn’t have to be that guy at 18-years-old. Think of the maturation of Vinicius Junior in nearly five years. Again, think of your own maturation over a five year horizon. Endrick will arrive a kid, no need to place the weight of the world on his shoulders.