Murillo: From Futsal in São Paulo to the Premier League

The road for young Brazilian footballers from the Brasileirão, Brazil’s top domestic league, to the English Premier League is one that is rarely trodden, at least not directly anyway. The most common pathway would be to move to Portugal’s Primeira Liga, or any of the top divisions in Spain, Netherlands, Germany or France where they can acclimatize to the rigors of European top-flight football before then taking that bold step into the English game.


Chelsea’s former midfielder and UEFA Champions League winner Ramires is one of the more prominent examples in the past two decades, moving from Cruzeiro in his homeland to Benfica before eventually being snapped up by the West-London giants after a stellar season in Portugal.  There have, however, been some exceptions.


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Arsenal winger Gabriel Martinelli, signed from Brazilian second division outfit Ituano in 2019, has gone on to take the English top flight by storm despite not having any prior experience in Europe. Another such exception is Murillo Santiago Costa dos Santos; better known as Murillo, a talented defender whose rise in stature and reputation at the heart of the Nottingham Forest backline has been nothing short of remarkable. 


Early Career in Brazil


Murillo began his football journey in the bubbling talent hotbed that is the city of São Paulo. Growing up as a lifelong Corinthians fan, he was greatly influenced by his father’s love for the club. The young Murillo started out honing his skills as a forward on the futsal fields in his hometown and quickly caught the attention of local scouts with his natural talent on the ball as well as his physique despite his age. He joined the youth setup of his boyhood club Corinthians, a long-held dream of his father’s, who had sadly passed away in his earlier years.


Murillo the forward hardly had the best of times on the pitch though, having to transition to midfield to fit into the youth teams of São Caetano, ECUS and São Bernardo prior to his Corinthians move. A switch to central defense would be the turning point in the young São Paulo native’s burgeoning career.


The Move to Europe


Murillo would bide his time with Corinthians’ youth teams until he got an opportunity with the First team, an opportunity he would grasp with both hands. This opportunity came in April 2023 in the Copa do Brasil. He would go on to become a regular fixture in Corinthians’ backline for the rest of the season. His performances wouldn’t go unnoticed by European scouts and he became the subject of interest from clubs such as Napoli, West Ham United and even UEFA Champions League holders Manchester City.



The young defender would eventually agree a deal with Nottingham Forest, into their second season in the Premier League and looking to consolidate, for what now seems to be a bargain at just €12 million. The move marked a significant milestone in his fledgling career, as he embraced the challenge of competing in one of the most prestigious football leagues in the world, despite barely having a full season of senior professional football under his belt.


The transition from Brazilian football to English football may have come with new challenges, including adapting to a different style of play, facing top-tier opponents week in and week out, and adjusting to life in a new country and an unfamiliar language. However, as Murillo has shown in the past, he’s never one to give up easily and before the end of the year he had sealed a regular spot in Forest’s defense at the expense of Scott McKenna and Joe Worrall.


Style Of Play


Murillo isn’t your old school CB that just likes to hoof it. Some comparisons have been drawn to former Seleção regular Lúcio in terms of his strength in the tackle, but he also has a decent passing range. Being predominantly left footed also means he’s a profile that will always be in demand due to a paucity of quality left footed central defenders on the market. He may still need to work on his duels as he’s prone to committing the odd foul here and there but at 21, there is still a lot of room for improvement.




Nottingham Forest may be in danger of relegation this season, partly due to their patchy form in the league and also for their four-point deduction not meeting the Premier League’s Profit and Sustainability Rules. For Murillo, however, the only way is up and it won’t be a surprise to see the young Brazilian turning out for one of European club football’s superpowers come next season. 


By: Edward Okaro / @KingArinze

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Kieran Cleeves – PA Images