The Portuguese side paid Santos €18 million plus 10% of any future profits to sign the prodigy, who has already netted 54 senior goals back in Brazil and produced an eye-catching performance at the U20 World Cup, where he won the Silver Boot.
One of the reasons that Marcos Leonardo might have picked Benfica ahead of Arsenal was the development record that the Lisbon side have with regards to South American players.
Indeed, he is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Enzo Fernandez, who spent just six months with Benfica before moving to Chelsea for €121m a year ago. The Portuguese side received a staggering markup on the midfielder, who they had bought for just €10m. The Blues had been interested at that point but chose not to move.
While they would ideally like Marcos Leonardo to go on and become a cult hero of their club, turning a quick profit would also be a more than acceptable outcome.
What is Marcos Leonardo’s release clause?
If Arsenal are to prise the player away in the summer, they will likely have to match his release clause of €150m, which is the figure Fabrizio Romano gave.
The Gunners are likely to question whether he is worth that. Even if he shines in Portugal, they may look at how Enzo has faded at Chelsea of late or how Darwin Nunez remains unpolished at Liverpool, despite moving there from Benfica for a fee that could rise as high as €100m.
— SL Benfica (@SLBenfica) January 5, 2024
Marcos Leonardo has the raw attributes to be an interesting option. In terms of his style, he is a mix of Erling Haaland due to his poaching instincts in the box and current Gunners striker Gabriel Jesus due to his mobility.
Of course, he is not yet as good as either and only time will tell whether Arsenal have missed a trick on signing him early, much as Chelsea blew their chance to get Enzo at a fraction of the price when he was allowed to move to Benfica 18 months ago.
Arteta will continue to monitor his progress but the prospect of signing him at a bargain price may have gone forever.