Chelsea agree initial £29.5m deal for Estevao Willian after winning race for 'mini Messi'

Estevao Willian is one of the hottest prospects in South America (AFP via Getty Images)
Estevao Willian is one of the hottest prospects in South America (AFP via Getty Images)

Chelsea will sign Brazil teenager Estevao Willian after agreeing an initial £29.5million deal for the Palmeiras sensation.

The 17-year-old, dubbed Messinho, or Little Messi, for his slight frame and ability on the ball, is ranked as one of the hottest prospects in South American football.

Chelsea owners Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital are understood to consider Estevao as a potential prodigy, who could turn into a generational talent in the long-term at Stamford Bridge.

The deal for Estevao could climb to more than £51million given a raft of performance-related add-ons that sit alongside the basic initial fee.

The top-line fee for Estevao would make him the most expensive ever South American teen signing.

Boehly and Clearlake head duo Behdad Eghbali and Jose Feliciano have targeted South American talent from the outset of their Chelsea tenure.

Andrey Santos, Deivid Washington, Angelo and Kendry Paez have all already been recruited to underpin a youthful contingent designed at creating a new backbone for Chelsea’s future.

Ecuadorian Paez has been highly feted and will arrive at Stamford Bridge in 2025 from Independiente del Valle.

Chelsea had previously made a big pursuit for Palmeiras starlet Endrick, but ultimately lost out to Real Madrid. Endrick scored against England at Wembley in March, and aged 17 already has two goals in four senior Brazil appearances.

The powerful young forward will join Real in July once he has turned 18.

Chelsea’s owners have made a concerted effort to disrupt the status quo of both the transfer market and standard squad building strategy since buying the Blues from Roman Abramovich in May 2022.

Striking quickly to capture Estevao represents another such move, and all aligned with the new owners’ bold overarching strategy.

Chelsea were understood to be determined not to be beaten to the punch for another top young South American prospect in the manner of losing out on Endrick, and quick work this time around appears to have borne fruit.