Essex Senior League: Barking chairman Rob O’Brien backs Matheus Santos to go all the way to the top after recent trial with AFC Bournemouth
PUBLISHED: 17:00 10 April 2017
Blues’ Academy manager Mick O’Shea discusses talent of the teenager and how time with Premier League club will help his development
Barking chairman Rob O’Brien has backed youngster Matheus Santos to make it all the way into the professional game if he continues to improve and believes he could follow in the footsteps of ex-Dagenham & Redbridge winger Jodi Jones.
Santos spent a couple of days with Premier League outfit AFC Bournemouth last week and played for the Cherries in a trial match.
The talented teen has progressed through Barking’s Football Academy and impressed when given a chance in the first-team by Glen Golby and Steve Willis this season.
Even if Santos isn’t offered a contract by Bournemouth, O’Brien feels he has all the ingredients to progress into the Football League like Jones who burst onto the scene with Dagenham before joining Coventry City.
“Matheus came in as an almost freestyle type player and had lots of flair, but not much idea if you like,” said O’Brien. “Now we have been able to turn him into a very capable, senior player who is very attractive to watch on the eye.
“One of the things we keep saying to him is that he needs to have a final product because it is very well beating a player and looking good, but it is no good to the team if you can’t deliver a telling cross, shot or pass.
“He is learning that and is starting to get better and better and you look at somebody like Jodi Jones, who was a local lad and is now at Coventry and learning the game and producing.
“Jodi has made it in the pro game and if Matheus keeps on developing, learning and listening then he can definitely make the grade as well.”
Santos is one of a number of young players catching the eye at Barking, who sealed the Essex Senior League title last weekend.
The teen is a product of the Blues’ under-19 scholarship team who reached the Conference Youth Alliance League Cup final last May.
One of the key players in the side, Santos was unfortunately unable to help Barking claim silverware as they lost 3-1 to Kidderminster Harries in the final.
But after making his first-team debut last season, Golby and Willis have handed the Brazilian-born attacker more opportunities this year.
And the Barking winger has impressed the various professional scouts who have turned up at Mayesbrook Park on a regular basis.
Blues academy manager Mick O’Shea has overseen Santos’ outstanding rise from scholar to first-team player and praised the teen.
He recently took a squad of Barking youngsters down to Championship high-flyers Brighton & Hove Albion to play their youth team.
And the exercise proved worthwhile with Santos plus numerous others at the club making an impression on the Seagulls coaches.
O’Shea believes regardless of what happens with Bournemouth, Santos has plenty to be positive about. He said: “I think Matheus is maturing as a young lad with his communication skills and his dedication for learning and the penny has dropped.
“He did very well at Brighton and ran them ragged and a couple of other clubs have been to watch him and he got an opportunity down at Bournemouth.
“We’ll know at the start of this week whether they want him back or they will shake hands and say work on this, that and the other.
“It can never be bad news because he has got that experience in his locker now and say negatively they bounce him, he has still been at a Premier League club.
“Whatever they tell him to work at – that is now the barrier for him and it is where he will wish he can get to.
“Even if he goes League Two, League One or the Championship, he will strive to get to where he was last week with Bournemouth, so it is a psychological driver.”
Santos should discover his fate over the next couple of days, but the Cherries face plenty of competition for the Brazilian with clubs from England and abroad keeping tabs on him and other teens in the first-team at Barking.
The pathway from non-league to Football League is still difficult despite plenty of recent success stories including former Daggers hitman Dwight Gayle.
But Blues’ appear to have their finger on the pulse in terms of developing players able to catch the attention of professional clubs.
And Barking’s academy are set to hold more trials in the coming weeks for their under-19 scholarship programme, although all trials are by invitation only.
For more information on how to get involved with Barking’s full-time education and football development programme - contact Mick O’Shea on 07762 636015.