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Endrick says ‘I have to introduce myself’ as Brazilian teenager gets ready for life at Real Madrid

SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazil striker Endrick knows he will face tough competition to make an impression when he joins European champion Real Madrid for the upcoming season, especially after the signing of Kylian Mbappé on Monday.

The teenager said in a phone interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday that he is unfazed by the challenges ahead. His signing in December 2022 cost Madrid more than 40 million euros ($43.5 million), but Madrid fans knew then that they would have to wait until Endrick turns 18 in July this year as he continued to play for Brazilian team Palmeiras.

Endrick knows what he has to do from the start at Madrid.

“No one is supposed to know me well,” Endrick said. “I am the one who is arriving, I have to introduce myself.”

Endrick said Madrid would be favorite to win its 16th Champions League title next season.

“The more you win at Madrid, the more you have to win. There’s no rest,” the 17-year-old Endrick said as he prepares to train with Brazil’s Copa America squad.

“The biggest difference between South America and Europe is the intensity of the game, but Palmeiras is the most European of Brazilian teams, and that will help in my adaptation,” said the striker, whose only professional club coach until now has been Portuguese Abel Ferreira.

Asked where he would fit into Madrid’s winning team, Endrick said that will be a decision for coach Carlo Ancelotti. So far, the Brazilian has mostly played as a center forward.

“With this squad, I can’t think about choosing anything. There’s only world-class players. I leave that (decision) to Ancelotti, he is also world-class and will find a solution,” said Endrick, a boyhood fan of the club and its former star Cristiano Ronaldo, much like new signing Mbappé.

Endrick leaves Brazil as a beloved player at Palmeiras after 81 matches and 21 goals, some of them key for the club’s title-winning form in recent years. He was in tears before his farewell match on May 30, with local fans chanting his name and displaying a banner wishing him well in Europe

The target man won the Sao Paulo championship title with Palmeiras this year and in 2023. He was also part of the squad that lifted the Brazilian championship in 2022 and 2023.

Endrick hopes to impress Ancelotti at Copa America, in which he could end up as a starter for Brazil. He has recovered from a right thigh injury while playing for Palmeiras in May. This year, he scored six goals for club and country in 24 matches.

His main competition to play for Brazil could also be his rival for game time at Madrid — striker Rodrygo.

Many analysts say that Endrick’s performance at Copa America, as new coach Dorival Júnior takes over Brazil, could help him in Spain in his competition with Rodrygo. Others say it won’t matter that much since Ancelotti will work new players in little by little.

Endrick has two goals in two games for Brazil. In March, he scored the winner against England at Wembley Stadium and days later netted another in his team’s 3-3 draw with Spain at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, giving local fans a glimpse of what they might soon see.

“Those matches were great, but my life didn’t change much. I continued to work hard and playing every match as if it was the first,” Endrick said. “We get happy, we celebrate, but there’s soon another match to win and to put pressure on us.”

No matter what happens in the tournament in the United States or in his first months in Spain, the teenager who is often compared to 1994 World Cup winner Romario for his confident style believes he is ready to deliver.

“I always wanted to be a footballer, I’ve always taken the challenges, including that of playing with older kids. My dream was always this, and now I am making the dreams bigger, little by little,” said Endrick, who grew up close to Brazil’s capital Brasilia and joined Palmeiras academy at 9 years old. “I want to make history with Brazil and Madrid, I always dreamed of playing for them.”


AP soccer: https://ift.tt/HC2IaPB

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