Back in 2008, Wellington Silva was invited from Fluminense for a trial with Arsenal’s academy side. He played against Norwich and managed to score four goals and instantly impressed the Arsenal coaches.
Come December 2009, Silva agreed a deal to sign for the club. Arsenal paid 3.5 million pounds for the then youngster, although the move was delayed due to the players age. While waiting for the deal to complete he played twice for Fluminense, before finally joining the Gunners in January 2010.
However, the FA, having originally agreed to a work permit, had changed their minds on awarding Silva with a ‘special talent visa’, meaning the young Brazilian had to be sent out on loan.
Silva was sent out on loan to Levante, who were playing in La Liga. Silva spent 5 months on loan with the Spanish team, appearing only twice as a substitute, once in January and once in May.
He rejoined Levante in July 2011 but this time he made no appearances. Arsenal made the decision to loan him out to a new club, this time to CD Alcoyano who were playing in the Spanish Segunda division. This turned out to be a slightly improved loan deal for Silva as he played 16 times and scored 3 goals.
The 2012 season saw him once more out on loan, this time to SD Ponferradina, another Spanish team. He managed 3 goals in 20 appearances, however all of them as a substitute.
Then came a season at Murcia, with 3 goals in 38 matches, followed by the 2014/15 season with UD Almeria. This time playing 31 times but without getting on the score sheet.
Finally, Silva was granted a Spanish passport, allowing him to automatically qualify to work in the U.K. Silva was now eligible to play for Arsenal. Finally, the Brazilian would get his chance.
However, the 2015/15 season, he once again found himself loaned out, this time to Bolton Wanderers in the Championship. Wenger was still a fan and felt Bolton would be surprised by Silva’s quality. He managed to scored twice in 22 matches for Bolton. However, Bolton manager at the time Neil Lennon was less than impressed, claiming Silva wasn’t good enough to warrant a place in the team as he had not been performing anywhere near good enough. Another season ended in disappointment for the Brazilian.
Silva returned to the Emirates, but having failed to impress during any of his loan spells, Wellington Silva returned to Fluminense signing a four-year contract in July 2016.
A player once dubbed the new Neymar, great things were expected of the Brazilian. It’s possible, having been sent out on loan season after season, that this did not help Silva. In fact, it almost stunted his growth as a footballer. He was signed as a great prospect, where big things were expected of him as a player. But how many players have been tagged the next Pele, or Henry, or in this case Neymar and faded without a trace?
Unfortunately for Wellington Silva, he never came close to hitting the heights of the current Neymar. Having never played a game for Arsenal and now back at the club he started with, he probably never will.