Although still playing at Under-17 level, Flamengo youngster Douglas Baggio has been writing headlines across Brazil all year, having scored 72 goals in 53 games in 2012, drawing close attention from the likes of European champions Chelsea.
Douglas, 17, helped his Flamengo side to the Carioca (Rio de Janeiro state) championship earlier in the year, scoring 46 goals in the process, but insists that he is ready to step up to Under-20 level in the next couple of weeks as the national championship gets underway in Brazil.
Named after the Italian great whose penalty miss helped Brazil win the World Cup in 1994, the second-striker is hopeful that a good showing in that tournament and January’s Copa São Paulo youth tournament at the same level will propel him into first-team consideration next season.
“This year was great for me. I want to finish it on a high note,” the youngster told Globo Esporte. “I won the Under-17 state championship and was top scorer with 46 goals. Now my focus is on Under-20 level.
“I will move up with respect for my team-mates, but I need to seek my place also. The Brasileirão Under-20 and the Copa São Paulo are watched closely by the first-team coaches.”
Douglas, who has already trained with the first-team at Flamengo, arrived at the club in 2010 having started his career at Santa Cruz in his hometown of Recife.
With his performances and individual accolades over the past year, the youngster has quickly become a recognised name across Europe, with Chelsea reportedly joined by Barcelona and Real Madrid in monitoring the youngster’s progress.