RIO DE JANEIRO: Real Madrid have jumped in ahead of great Spanish rivals Barcelona to sign highly-rated Brazilian 16-year-old Vinicius Junior from Flamengo.

A statement issued by the Rio de Janeiro club said the player would formally join the world, European and Spanish champions in July next year. He ould then remain at Flamengo for a further year on loan.

Reports in Spain said Madrid would pay €46m which would make him the second most expensive signing from the Brazilian league after Neymar, who moved from Santos to Barcelona in 2013 for €86m.

Vinicius, who will turn 17 in July, only made his first-team debut for the Rio club 10 days ago but his decisive performances for Brazil’s Under-17 side singled him out as one of the game’s hottest prospects.

The forward lifted the top goalscorer and player of the tournament awards in March when he helped Brazil to their 12th South American Under-17s title. He is expected to lead Brazil in India in October at the Under-17 World Cup.