Leonardo has been coveted by Arsenal for weeks and was a player that they had been eager to add to their ranks as a young prospect for the future.
Mikel Arteta’s side, though, are set to miss out on the promising centre-forward, with Romano revealing that Benfica are closing in on a deal to sign the 20-year-old, whose style is a mix for Gunners forward Gabriel Jesus and Manchester City hitman Erling Haaland.
Romano took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to report on Tuesday: “Benfica are closing in on deal to sign Brazilian striker Marcos Leonardo from Santos.
“Benfica submitted formal bid in the last few hours, as revealed by new Santos president tonight.
“Deal being sealed on €18 million deal — and structure of the add-ons will be the final step.”
He subsequently added on Wednesday: “Marcos Leonardo to Benfica, here we go! Agreement in place with Santos for Brazilian striker after initial bid on Tuesday.
“Understand fee will be €18m fixed, there will be no add-ons.
“Marcos Leonardo has already accepted. Documents to be checked then signed.”
Benfica are known for developing young players from South America, with former Arsenal defender David Luiz one of many who has passed through the club, while the Portuguese side are still spending the money they made when selling Enzo Fernandez to Chelsea last January in a €121m deal.
Arsenal miss out on the next Martinelli
Arsenal had seen Marcos Leonardo, meanwhile, as a signing in the mould of Gabriel Martinelli, who they brought from Brazil and moulded into a world-class winger.
Leading data analytics firm SciSports see Marcos Leonardo much more in the mould of a Haaland or a Jesus, however.
2023 | Campeonato Brasileiro Série A (BRA)
Centre forward (2688 Minutes played)
2022/2023 | Premier League (ENG)
Centre forward (2901 Minutes played)
The striker, who has been capped for Brazil U20, who he has scored 15 goals in 13 matches, possesses the poaching instincts of Haaland plus the mobility and link play of Gabriel Jesus.
Despite scoring 54 times in 168 Santos appearances, SciSports believe that he does not have the potential to reach that standard and would likely only become a rotation player at Arsenal.
Time will tell if Arsenal have missed out on a gem with Leonardo.