Vasco da Gama fans were shocked when their team was relegated to Brazil’s second division in 2015, but for promising prodigies at the club's academy it was actually positive news.
Many of them got their chance to shine in Serie B under the guidance of 1994 World Cup winner Jorginho – and some took the opportunity better than most. Douglas Luiz made the strongest impression of them all.
The youngest of those promoted to the first-team squad, he only made his debut in August 2016 at the age of 17, but immediately stood out. Skilful on the ball and determined without it, Douglas proved himself as a versatile box-to-box midfielder. His contribution to Vasco's promotion was high, and as a result his place in Serie A starting lineups wasn't questioned.
However, supporters were soon disappointed to understand that scouts hadn’t missed their new star's ascent. Manchester City signed him in the summer for €12 million, with football director Txiki Begiristain hailing the capture of “an exciting player with great potential”. “We are looking forward to helping him develop his talent,” noted the former Barcelona official.
Unlike Gabriel Jesus, though, the 18-year-old isn’t ready to play in the Premier League just yet. Therefore, City loaned him to Catalan partners Girona, who were promoted to La Liga for the first time in their history thanks in part to players who arrived from Manchester.
Douglas has only started once in Spain so far – against Barcelona, of all sides – but performed well in the big game and is likely to get a lot of playing time throughout the season. Even Brazil coach Tite is delighted with the youngster, noting his passing range and magnificent first touch.
It’s way too early for the midfielder to think about the Seleção, but his time could come in a couple of years.
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