JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia -- Of the Fluminense fans who made the 6,000-mile journey from Rio de Janeiro to Jeddah over the weekend for the FIFA Club World Cup, the majority wearing the famous green and maroon shirt had the name "André" emblazoned on the back.

The 22-year-old defensive midfielder is their star, but the tournament in Saudi Arabia could also be his last act for the Brazilian club. Having stayed to help win the Copa Libertadores -- and thereby qualify for the Club World Cup -- he's set to follow in the footsteps of many of Brazil's best young players and make the move to Europe. It could happen as soon as the January transfer window, although it's not done yet.

Fluminense supporters are determined to enjoy him while they still can and their 2-0 win over CAF champions Al Ahly on Monday means André will play at least one more game for the club he joined, aged 12, when he lines up against Manchester City in Friday's Club World Cup final. There's no ill feeling from the club or their fans -- far from it -- and there's a sense that André has already more than done his part for Fluminense.

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The first rumours of a move to Europe began circulating a year ago, ahead of Europe's January window, but even then André was talking about staying put in order to have a go at winning the Copa Libertadores. It wasn't like that tournament represented a sure thing -- Fluminense weren't fancied and hadn't even started their domestic campaign by the time the competition began -- but André wanted to try anyway. In the summer, Liverpool came calling as manager Jurgen Klopp looked to rebuild his midfield without Jordan Henderson and Fabinho, but again André said no.

In public, Fluminense said they were delighted, but behind the scenes, many staff members sought him out to ask if he was sure it was the right decision. "It's one thing to say no to clubs in Portugal or Russia, but it was the Premier League and Liverpool," one source told ESPN. It paid off in the end when, in November, Fluminense beat Boca Juniors 2-1 after extra time to win the Copa Libertadores for the first time in their history.

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Already a hero having come through the academy to break into the first team, André has cemented his legacy and when the time comes, he'll be waved off as a club legend. Whether it happens in January or in the summer, the view at Fluminense is that he has to go eventually. They are in a much more stable financial position than they were a year ago, but André's potential €35 million transfer fee is still needed to help balance the books.

Liverpool's interest has softened since signing Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai, Ryan Gravenberch, and Wataru Endo in the summer but Arsenal, Manchester United, and Fulham are among the other clubs being linked. Fluminense haven't yet received any offers ahead of the January window and there's a suggestion that they could wait until the summer -- when European clubs usually do most of their transfer business -- to maximise their profit.

André's preference is to move to England but Fluminense have so far been firm in their demand for a fee close to €35m. Fulham in particular might have both the funds and the need for a holding midfielder if Bayern Munich reignite their interest in João Palhinha in January.

André was instrumental in helping Fluminense win their maiden Copa Libertadores, which only allowed for more growing interest for big clubs in Europe. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)

As comfortable playing in the centre of defence as he is at the base of the midfield, Fluminense staff believe André's physicality and technical ability on the ball would make him a perfect fit for the Premier League, but it hasn't always been the case.

Born in rural Brazil where his father worked on a cocoa farm, he arrived at Fluminense 10 years ago as a centre-forward. Not a player who made headlines as a teenager like Neymar or Endrick, André had to buy his family a phone to stay in contact during his early days at the club.

Despite his high profile, André has only been a regular in the Fluminense first team for three seasons, and before his debut in September 2020 he was about to leave on loan. However, injuries in the squad meant he had to stay and since the start of the 2021 campaign, he's played 153 games, barely missing any through injury. He made his international debut in June and has been keen to take advice from Seleção captain, Casemiro. The connection makes sense; in Brazil, he's seen as the natural successor to the Manchester United midfielder.

Casemiro, who will turn 32 in February, is part of a generation of Brazilian footballers that also includes former Fluminense academy graduates Thiago Silva, 39, and 35-year-old Marcelo, now back at the club where he started after winning the Champions League five times with Real Madrid.

Both Thiago Silva and Marcelo left Brazil to become stars in Europe, and André is next in line to make the move. First, though, is the Club World Cup final, where he'll have the chance to enhance his reputation even further.