Barcelona have handed Joao Mendes a chance to make it big at Camp Nou, just like his father Ronaldinho ascended to superstar status at the club.

The 18-year-old Mendes signed a contract on Thursday to join Barcelona's youth academy, with the young forward hoping to make the grade.

Mendes has been taken on after a trial period, having previously played at junior levels with a number of Brazilian clubs.

Across all competitions, Ronaldinho scored 98 goals in 207 games for Barcelona during a five-year spell from 2003 to 2008.

He was recruited as close to the finished article, having already shone for Paris Saint-Germain and Brazil, and went on to take his game to even higher levels by helping Barcelona win two LaLiga titles and the Champions League.

While thousands turned out to welcome Ronaldinho in 2003, his son's signing was a low-profile affair, with the club's youth football director Joan Soler Ferre joining him to overlook the completion of the deal.

Ronaldinho, who won the 2005 Ballon d'Or, is now a Barcelona ambassador.

Youngster Mendes was released by Cruzeiro last year, but in February the Barcelona president Joan Laporta welcomed the prospect of him joining the Catalan giants.

"The pressure on the boy is great, because Ronaldinho has been one of the best in history," Laporta said then. "The son has pressure, but it's the job of our coaches to develop his skills."