Luis Núñez-Villavearán

Updated Friday, February 23, 2024-22:32

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There were a few years where China seemed like El Dorado for many footballers, something similar to what Saudi Arabia is now.

In 2016, for example,

Carlos Tévez

landed in the Asian country with one of the best salaries in the world, 70 million euros for two years.

Many players took that path, but when

Leo Baptistao

(Santos, 1992) decided to do so, the deposit was already almost exhausted.

It was 2019, and the Brazilian decided to leave



Chinese side Wuhan


Does the name sound familiar to you?

Nine months later, Baptistao was with his wife locked in a hotel without being able to go out with half the world dying of covid.

"It was my worst moment in football," he tells EL MUNDO and remembers that he had a terrible time, but that he was never "close to being depressed."

"My wife and I decided to invest our time in mental health," he says.

"Covid was my worst moment in football"

Despite the result of that experience,


assures that he does not regret any of the changes he has made in his career.

There have not been few.

Eight clubs in 12 seasons.

"I think I have made good decisions, I do not regret any loan, any transfer. They are clubs that have taught me a lot, I have learned a lot and I have met very good people," he says.

Of all of them, there is one that has a special memory:

Rayo Vallecano


This is the club that welcomed him when his parents sent him to Spain when he was 15 years old.

The club that waited for him to be cured of hepatitis in Brazil and the one that catapulted him into his career.

He scored 14 goals in two seasons, but one of them was on loan from

Atlético de Madrid


"The intensity, the desire to win and compete, left me with Atlético," he says.

Baptistao as a Rayo player.EFE

He only played five games as a rojiblanco in which he scored a goal.

However, in that short period of time he not only hallucinated his teammates but also the true emblem of the last Atlético.



is a great professional, sick of work and victory," the Brazilian begins to finish, "I think he is a great coach, one of the best in the world."

Leo hopes that Almería

's first victory

this season

will be against

Atlético .

Although they are 13 points clear, he says that the team maintains faith, especially thanks to the energy that the new signings have brought to the Andalusian team.

This year he has played 19 games with the Almería team and has scored four goals.

Furthermore, after having recovered from ankle surgery that he had from last season, it seems that his injuries are being respected.

"Simeone is a great professional, sick of work and victory"

The Brazilian has not had any luck throughout his career.

In addition to hepatitis, two clavicle breaks broke his progression.

"They have helped me mature, have time and slow down," begins a reflective


and assures that they have helped him look to the future with a "more positive thought."

Although he believes that without them, he would be at "another level as a footballer."

Neymar's partner

The one who is still injured is his childhood friend and futsal teammate,

Neymar Jr

, with whom he continues to speak often and with whom he shares several WhatsApp groups.

For Baptistao he is the best footballer he has seen on a football field, "different" even from



So much so that at the age of 13, the Santos phenomenon was already filling sports centers with people who came to see him.

A lot has rained since then.

Since that moment when

Leo Baptistao

chose football because "it's his life" and he can't imagine anything else to do.

"Maybe something related to mathematics," he finally concedes, "economist," he ventures.

But at the moment he is focused on extending his career as much as he can and, preferably, in Spain.

A country that welcomed him when he was 15 and that he adores, especially his food: ham, paella and croquettes, although the latter only on days off.

Baptistao celebrates a goal in honor of his son.UD Almería

In addition to football and food, he has another reason to stay, his family.

Leo has been a father for a little less than a year. "I love it, I help a lot. I'm always with the child. I think I'm a good father, although the first 15 days I thought I was going to die because I wasn't sleeping," he says with a laugh. .

A lover of computer games and other sports such as tennis and paddle tennis, which he only practices on vacation,


has not yet considered the time to hang up his boots.

"I haven't even wanted to think about it," says the player who already has his agents worried about the performance of his finances so as not to have any financial problems in the future.

The most immediate thing is to save the category with


, there will be time to think about other things later.

The first step is Atlético this Saturday, since


could not help his team against




after being sent off, and it is not going to be an easy step.