Forward Joelson Fernandes has been on the radar of a few big teams across Europe. At the moment, the Sporting Club de Portugal player is being tracked by clubs such as FC Barcelona, Arsenal FC, and Juventus FC, according to a report from Spanish outlet SPORT.

So, who is this youngster that all these big clubs are chasing? How has he fared in his footballing career so far, and what could potentially lie ahead for him?

Who Is Joelson Fernandes?

Fernandes is one of the best young players in the Sporting youth setup. He has also been training with the first team after the COVID-19 pandemic break and has even made four first-team appearances.

Similarly, his younger brother also plays football at the Sporting Club’s youth level.

His Father Is A Footballing Agent

He was born in Bissau, the capital city of Guinea-Bissau, on February 28, 2003. He spent the early years of his life in his birth country before moving to Portugal in 2014 with his parents.

His father, Eusebio Mango, is also involved in football. He played for Sporting and Porto at the youth levels. Later, he spent a few more years in the lower leagues of the Portuguese footballing scene before becoming a footballing agent.

He Did Not Start His Footballing Journey At Sporting

Joelson first started playing football in his birth country Guinea-Bissau. He began learning football at a local club named Academia Valusa do Bairro Militar, situated in the outer areas of Bissau. There, he trained until moving to Aveiro, Portugal, at the age of 11.

He Did Not Join Sporting’s Academy Until 13

Right from the time the scouts first spotted him, he became a part of the Sporting youth setup. However, there were a lot of struggles to be had before he could join the academy full-time.

From age 11 to when he was 13, his parents would drive him 250 km from their home to the club in Aveiro to Lisbon. During this time, he played for many young age-group sides.

Finally, he permanently moved to Lisbon so he could join the academy full-time after two years of back and forth.

He Progressed Quickly Through The Youth Ranks

Playing for various age-groups in the youth setup, he did not spend much time in any of those groups. Having joined the academy full-time at 13 (around 2016), he was already playing for the Sub-15 side before the end of 2017.

Fernandes played just around six months for the Sub-15 before he was promoted to the Under-17 Juvenis team. For the Juvenis team, he played for a season before again getting promoted to the Under-23 squad.

In his first season in the Under-23 team, he played 28 games in Liga Revelacao and scored five goals and assisted two.

He First Trained With The Senior Side When He Was 16

The hierarchy at Sporting Club gave him the chance to train with the first team when he was just 16 years old.

His first training session with the first-team came just a few days after his 16th birthday. This breakthrough occurred when he was starting up with the Under-23 team. Since then, he has been training with both the first team and the U-23s.

He Chose To Play National Football For Portugal

Despite being born in Guinea-Bissau, Fernandes chose to play for Portugal because of the opportunities he would get in comparison to Guinea Bissau. It was a decision that caused him some controversy.

The 17-year-old forward has played for the Portugal Under-15 (five matches and two goals), Under-16 (eight matches and one goal), and Under-17 (three matches and one goal) sides.

He Is The Third-Youngest Debutant For Sporting

Joelson made his debut for the Sporting first team when he was just 17 years, four months and three days old. He was brought onto the pitch for the final minute of the game against Gil Vicente on July 1, 2020.

Playing for just a minute might not have been the way he would have liked to have marked his senior debut, but it must have been a special occasion to help the team win with the 2-1 scoreline.

In doing so, he became the third-youngest senior debutant in Sporting Club’s history. He also overtook Cristiano Ronaldo in the process. The latter was 17 years, eight months, and two days old when he made his debut for Sporting.