The hunt for young talent is never ending for the top football clubs around Europe. While many of the signings feature teenagers, Barcelona showed the scouting starts well before that by inking nine-year-old Zico Jr. Marecaldi.
Sean Fay of Eurosport reports an agreement was reached between Barcelona and Swedish side BK Olympic so the intriguing young player could make the move. There will be no compensation, though, as rules in Sweden prevent players from registering fully until they are 12.
The report also passed along a quick comment from Zico, and it's pretty clear he's still just a kid.
"It's going to be cool," said Zico Jr., per Swedish daily Skanska Dagbladet.
Most stars heading to Barcelona talk about the club's history and all of the talented players to wear the kit before them. Perhaps they even discuss what it will be like the first time they walk onto the pitch at Camp Nou as a home player.
Zico just thinks it's cool.
His father, Antonio, said there was some initial resistance when Zico found out he would have to spend time away from his family, but he quickly decided he wanted to go:
Zico was obviously very happy (when Barcelona said they wanted him), but his first reaction when he found out that he would be staying at the boarding school was that he cried and said he did not want to leave me.
But 20 minutes later, he had already decided it was a good idea. Otherwise we would have called off the whole thing.
Of course, Zico is still about a decade away from making any type of impact for the senior squad. Whether his development over that time will match the immense upside he's already showcased is unknown, but Barca was fascinated enough to take a chance.
Now, he'll have a chance to work at one of the top youth academies in the world, maximizing his chances of reaching that sky-high potential. But he's still very early in the development process, which is important to keep in mind.
One more example of that came as he was preparing to leave BK Olympic, as described in the Eurosport report:
Before his final match for BK, the club printed up a shirt with his name on the back. Zico scored a goal and the team won before celebrating the victory by eating cake in the clubhouse.
Eating cake in the clubhouse: a nine-year-old athlete's dream. A perfect way to send Zico off as he prepares for the challenges ahead at Barcelona.