Talles Magno wants New York City FC fans to know he didn’t join the club simply to advance his own career. He’s here to win, not just games but trophies for a club with none to its name.
Ambitious as that sounds, it remains unclear when the Brazilian can start doing his part for NYCFC.
Speaking with the media Wednesday for the first time since signing as a designated player last week, the highly regarded 18-year-old Magno revealed a knee injury suffered at his previous club may keep him out of the lineup for the immediate future despite training with his new team this week ahead of NYCFC’s Saturday road match at LAFC.
"My knee is almost 100%, I still feel a little bit of pain and there is a little bit of difficulty in moving my leg, it doesn't bend completely the way it used to," Magno said through a translator. "I have lost a lot of strength in training, I need to get fit again precisely because I have not been playing a lot, so I am not playing the way that I used to, I'm not as fit and as strong as I was. But I trust that I will be 100% soon and when I’m feeling well, I just need to improve so I can start playing the way that I used to."
The way Magno used to play reportedly attracted the interest of several European powers before the Brazilian star found his way to NYCFC. A product of CR Vasco de Gama in Rio de Janeiro, Magno said his soccer journey began at 6 years old, but his family’s finances prevented him from receiving proper training until joining Vasco at 9 or 10.
Modeling his game after Brazilian legend Ronaldo, Magno largely has thrived since. He helped Brazil to a U-17 World Cup title on home turf in 2019 and garnered notice abroad. That interest seemed to cool last summer, however, allowing NYCFC to get a deal done.
While there could be a massive career ahead for Magno, who describes his style of play as a "happy game," the teenager said he is chiefly focused on making a tangible impact at NYCFC and acclimating to MLS.
"Before even thinking of a springboard to the future elsewhere, I want to be able to help my team here win trophies. I'm just so ready to give my best to this team," Magno said. "I feel very happy to play here, this is a big club, I feel proud to be here. I want to give my best. The rhythm of play here is different from what I'm used to. So, I need to adapt, and understand how they play here."
As often will happen for the supposed future stars of Brazilian soccer, Magno has drawn comparisons to the country’s finest, such as Neymar. Magno called those comments humbling, believing he needs "to work a lot" before they are apt. That won’t stop the soccer-crazed nation from building his hype and, for better or worse, pressure on him to succeed. Perhaps playing in New York — where baseball stars hear boos at home yet local soccer’s best can roam the streets mostly unrecognized — is a chance for the prodigy to develop at his own pace without all of Brazil constantly in his ear. But according to Magno, the weight of a nation isn’t too much to bear, and his concerns now mostly rest on what he’ll meet on the fields of MLS.
"Pressure really comes from the inside," Magno said. "So yes, there's a lot of pressure in Brazil to always do well, and here maybe there is less, but there's also a lot of competition here. The competition here does exist, and I only want to work my best and do my best so that I can achieve great things for this team here."