Forget worrying about puberty, Leonel Angel Coira has professional soccer to stress over in his future. The 7-year-old soccer prodigy from Argentina signed a one-year renewable deal with the Spanish club Real Madrid on Monday and will begin training with Real’s youth academy on Sept 6, according to a team spokesperson.
Coira told the Argentine sports daily Ole last week that his idol is Lionel Messi, a striker for Barcelona and the Argentinean national team. So much so that he goes by the nickname Leo, just like his favorite player. He also said that he prefers to pass instead of score because let’s face it we have all seen what the average 7-year-old is capable of on the field and scoring is clearly their strength.
But he is not even close to being a teenager, so why all the hub-bub, is he really that good?
Madrid went after Coira because Spanish league rival Atletico Madrid was making a push for the youngster, who already has a Facebook page featuring photos of his visit to Real Madrid. Madrid’s scouts are so impressed with their youngest-ever signing that they plan to immediately pair him against 8 and 9-year-old academy members.
Even Messi – who just so happens to be the best soccer player in the world – was not on the professional radar until Barcelona signed him as a teenager but now, he has won the World Player of the Year award two times and helped Barcelona win 15 trophies, including three Champions League titles.
“Lionel Messi is my idol but my dream is to play in the Real Madrid first team,” Leo told the Argentine sports daily Ole.
Marketing a child this young in professional sports is not easy, especially when you build him up as the next Messi. This certainly has a recipe for failure. Just ask Freddy Adu.
However, apparently 7 is the new 18, who knew?
Photo courtesy of The Associated Press.