Skip to main content

Lucas Paquetá: The New Paquetá



When word spread in October of last year that Milan were signing a young Brazilian talent, the excitement was real. With Leonardo as our Sporting Director and his history with scouting Brazilian talent, it had to be a good signing, right? Even if UEFA expressed their disapproval almost immediately, there was a lot of hype over this 21 year-old Flamengo player with comparisons to other great Brazilian players. However in just a few short months, he has proven himself to be his own player. He is the new Paquetá.

A brilliant future, with an already bright present

Born on Paquetá island in Rio de Janeiro, Lucas Tolentino Coelho de Lima  grew up in the Flamengo youth system, so has only known the red and black in his club colors. As a young player, he was fairly short, but eventually his body caught up with his technical skills, and he became the strong, quick, talented midfielder we know and love today. At the age of 18, he was promoted to Flamengo's first team, where he would score 11 goals in 49 appearances.

When a player does that well that young, they are bound to be picked up by a European team, so Milan got in the front of the line and spent €35 million to bring him to the club. It was a risk, considering the state of the club, our Financial Fair Play situation, and especially the fact that he was only 21. Milan’s history with young players, particularly Brazilians, was sink or swim. Either they would become stars or be disappointments, nothing in between.

Rossonero from his youth

So would this young Paquetá become a Kaká? Or a Digao? Ironically, Galliani, a habitual signer of brothers, signed Paquetá’s brother for nearby Serie C side Monza. So if he is the Digao, then we got a new Kaká, right? Even Paquetá himself said he aspired to be like Kaká, that he was his role model. But Kaká was wise to discourage comparisons, as they can make or break a player’s career. Besides, there can only be one Kaká. And there can only be one Paquetá.

Right away, Paquetá showed his quality at Milan. He slotted right into the team, starting every game since he arrived. He immediately played well and is only getting better. He started racking up the assists and got a goal against Cagliari, too, which he emotionally dedicated to the victims of Flamengo’s youth team who had just died in a tragic fire. It’s not just about his skills, he has shown maturity and class that makes him a perfect fit at Milan.

An emotional first Milan goal with a classy dedication

A lot of fans love his Brazilian flair and his finesse plays. People are still talking about his rainbow flick against Genoa. However, they fail to note that he lost the ball on that play and that Genoa nearly scored because of his showboating. Needless to say, we have not seen any rainbow flicks since then. But I believe we will eventually, just when he has grown into his Serie A feet enough to complete the play and give fans everything they want. That will definitely be worth talking about.

I have to confess that I am not a particular fan of flair and finesse. It is beautiful when it is combined with success, but that is so rare. I want a player who is strong. Who can defend as well as he can create opportunities. I want a player that is as powerful in the air as he is skilled with the ball at his feet. I value a player with vision and technical abilities to see the game ahead of everyone else. And gratefully, Paquetá is all of those things.

Eyes always on the ball

Milan are not the only one to take notice, either. After eight caps by the Brazilian U20 national team, he has now been capped for Brazil’s senior national team as well. In fact, during this break, he was given the prestigious number ten jersey. Granted, Neymar is out injured. And Paquetá has a lot to learn about diving and rolling around to be able to reach that bar. But Paquetá did score on his debut wearing the number ten, so maybe Neymar should be worried about Brazil finding a player who can actually stay on his feet and play honestly.

Talented enough to play without diving

What excites me most about Paquetá is that he is the real deal. Although he is young, and there is always danger in predicting how a young player will turn out, he truly seems to have it all. Such a talented and skilled player, but also grounded and disciplined. He gets along well with his teammates, and even seems to be attempting to teach Kessie to Samba, if you follow Bakayoko’s Instagram account. But my favorite are his samba celebrations when he scores or we win. For me, he will never be Kaká or any other iconic Brazilian player who has played for Milan. For me, he is already the new Paquetá.


This post inspired by the music of Duran Duran’s “Rio”


Our next match is
Serie A Week 29
Sampdoria vs. Milan
Saturday, March 30 • 20:30 CET (3:30pm EDT)*
*note the time difference due to U.S. Daylight Savings Time