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David Neres profile: Lowdown on Ajax & Brazil star who scored stunner vs Juve

  /  autty

Liverpool, Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund were already reportedly interested in signing Ajax's wing sensation David Neres.

But that list of suitors is set to grow even longer following the Brazilian's heroics in their Champions League draw with Juventus on Wednesday night.

Trailing to a Cristiano Ronaldo header, Ajax looked to be firmly on the back foot in the quarter-final tie until Neres conjured up a moment of magic seconds after half-time.

Stealing the ball on the Ajax left, he surged forward before twisting his way into a shooting position. His finish from there was unstoppable, curling away from Wojciech Szczesny and into the far corner.

Here's everything you need to know about the 22-year-old rising star who could next season by playing for one of Europe's elite clubs.

How has Neres shot to prominence this season?

It's not as though Neres had a terrible season in 2017-18. After all, he scored 15 goals and contributed 14 assists for Ajax in the Eredivisie.

It's more that the winger has this season performed in the spotlight of the Champions League, where the Dutch club are revelling in their status as underdogs.

The bigger the occasion, the better Neres performs at the moment, or so it seems.

He has found the net against European heavyweights Real Madrid and Juventus in the space of a month, a feat few players of his age can match.

Ajax's sensational 4-1 win in the Bernabeu - having lost the first leg 2-1 at home - was the story of the Champions League last-16.

Neres scored the second of their goals in the Spanish capital, bursting into the box to meet a Dusan Tadic through pass before rounding the keeper to slot home, and put Ajax ahead for the first time in the tie.

And his goal against Juventus has kept alive hopes of reaching a first Champions League semi-final since the 1996-97 campaign.

This is undoubtedly another immensely youthful and talented Ajax side, though as with some of their other vintage teams, it is likely to be quickly disbanded.

Star midfielder Frenkie de Jong, 21, is bound for Barcelona in the summer, while 19-year-old captain and centre-back Matthijs de Ligt is also likely to be picked off by one of the European elite.

But it's sure going to be fun while it lasts - in addition to their Champions League progress, Ajax top the Eredivisie on goal difference from PSV Eindhoven, having racked up 100 goals in 29 matches.

How did Ajax unearth this gem?

Like many of Brazil's best talents, Neres hails from Sao Paulo and entered Sao Paulo's academy at the age of 10.

He was 19 when promoted into the first team squad by manager Ricardo Gomes and he would play 11 times in all for the club, scoring three goals.

Ajax's scouts had spotted his potential and paid about £13million to bring him over to Europe, following in the footsteps of Denilson and Lucas Moura, who'd previously left the club for Real Betis and PSG respectively.

Neres played a handful of matches for Jong Ajax but was clearly ready for the first-team and made his debut against Heracles in February 2017.

Since then, it's been a steady uphill curve with last season proving a breakthrough year domestically and this season his coming of age on the continental stage.

So what does he offer?

Neres played mainly on the right wing during his first two seasons with Ajax but is now predominantly used on the left.

However, he has the dexterity to play on either and has even played a handful of matches as a playmaker this season.

Blistering pace and trickery on the ball to beat opponents is the first thing you notice, but Neres also possesses a cracking shot, as we saw against Juventus.

The fact he has also chipped in with 15 assists this season also demonstrates a selfless side when it comes to picking passes or whipping in crosses for his team-mates.

What about international honours?

A couple of years ago, Neres was playing alongside the likes of Richarlison in a Brazil under-20 team that didn't even qualify for the World Cup at that age group.

But his progress in Holland has certainly not gone unnoticed by those who make the selections for the Selecao.

Not only did he impress in the match against Real, but opposite number Vinicius Junior picked up an injury, leaving a gap in Tite's squad for last month's friendlies against Panama and the Czech Republic.

Neres received the call-up, even if he didn't quite take the call right away when Tite rang him.

'I didn't recognise the number and didn't pick up because I don't respond to unknown numbers,' Neres told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.

'But I called back after I realised I'd seen the same one on a WhatsApp group. It was the national team coach telling me I'd been called up.

'My friends and family were calling me as well. Everybody in Brazil already knew.'

Neres didn't feature in the 1-1 draw against Panama, but came off the bench to make an impact in the 3-1 success over the Czechs three days later.

Gabriel Jesus scored two late goals and Neres opened up the defence on both occasions.

'I think I left a flea behind Tite's ear,' he said afterwards. 'And yes, I want to be at the Copa America.'

How about his personal life?

Neres certainly doesn't lack confidence with the ball at his feet and that clearly transfers to his love life as well.

Taking something of a Route One approach, Neres slid into the DMs of German model Kira Winona - and incredibly the direct tactic paid off as they are now an item.

'German women apparently love Brazilian men,' he told Het Parool.

'I found here on Instagram and sent a private message: 'I am David Neres, come to me'. That was enough for a date.

'I was sad and not happy [at Ajax], but I kept working hard and got my place back.'

Winona, who splits her time between London and Amsterdam, regularly shares pictures of the pair together on her Instagram account.

Now it remains to be seen which of Europe's top clubs prove the perfect match for this rising star.