Vinicius Souza relishing Premier League “dream” ahead of potential Sheffield United debut

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Three years ago, when he was playing in the Belgian second tier, Vinicius Souza flicked on his television set to watch Premier League games just hoping he would get a taste of it one day in the future.

Fast forward to this weekend and the Brazilian’s boyhood dream could be about to come true, after his move to Sheffield United was completed earlier this week. A long-time target of boss Paul Heckingbottom, Souza arrives at Bramall Lane fresh from an impressive season personally on loan in Spain with Espanyol, where he impressed despite Periquitos losing their La Liga status, after terms were agreed with Manchester City-owned Lommel.

United hoped to receive clearance for Souza to make his debut in their season opener against Crystal Palace, with their midfield ranks depleted in the week leading up to that game when Sander Berge moved to Burnley. With John Fleck facing months on the sidelines after suffering another fractured leg and Ollie Norwood suffering 10 stitches in a nasty head wound during a pre-season game at Rotherham United, Heckingbottom half-joked that Souza will have to be fit, despite his late arrival, because of United’s lack of other options.

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“Three years ago I was playing second year in Belgium and now I have the possibility of playing in the Premier League. It’s crazy,” Souza said. “I saw a lot of support from the coach with him sending me messages and I’m so happy to be here. I say big thanks to everyone for making it happen and I’m so excited to play with the guys.

“It’s my dream. I don’t care who I play against, I just play for Sheffield United. To play in the Premier League is a dream for me and my family and I’m excited to be here. The [United] support is crazy and I’m so excited to be playing in the stadium.”

Heckingbottom joked that he had spoken to Souza more than his wife over the summer months as he looked to get a deal over the line. The United manager initially thought he would only be able to sign Souza on loan before the chance to tie him down to a four-year deal materialised - owing in no small part to United’s good relationship with City, who Heckingbottom made a point of thanking in his pre-match press briefing before the Palace game.

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“Vinicius was desperate to come here,” Heckingbottom said. “I’ve been speaking to him more than my wife to try and get him here. City have been great with their help and everyone wanted to make it happen. We’re happy and when it all got signed, we could breathe a sigh of relief.”

Born in Rio de Janeiro, 24-year-old Souza started his professional career in his homeland with Flamengo before moving to Europe with Lommel, furthering his football education with loan spells at K.V. Mechelen and then Espanyol. He is now looking forward to writing the next chapter in his career in the Steel City. “I know about Sheffield,” he said, “because it’s a big city and before I signed I went to Google.

“I also asked friends at Manchester City who played here before. So I know everything about Sheffield! I love the atmosphere of the Premier League. Three years ago I was watching on the TV and now I have the opportunity to play there, so it’s so exciting.”

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