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MADRID (AP) — He has a contract with one of soccer’s biggest clubs and the same long, floppy hair and nickname Leo of his idol, Lionel Messi.
It may take awhile, however, before Leonel Angel Coira can match the wondrous Messi: He is 7 years old.
Real Madrid said Monday it signed the Argentine prodigy to its youth academy after seeing him in tryouts. He will start training with Madrid’s youth team in September.
Coira hopes to follow the path set by Messi, a countryman who joined Barcelona from the Argentine club Newell’s Old Boys as a teenager and has gone on to win the World Player of the Year award two times.
“(My) dream is to meet Messi, play in the first division with Madrid and for Argentina in the World Cup,” Coira told a Spanish newspaper.
The signing underscores the tactics of top teams scooping up fresh talent as early as possible to avoid paying huge transfer fees when their potential blossoms.
Coira’s family moved to Madrid three years ago after his father, Miguel, was offered a job in the Spanish capital. Miguel Coira coaches a local youth club where Leonel played and first caught the eye of a Madrid scout.
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