It’s a long shot, but in Brazil this is his nickname: this youngster is known as “Fenomeno do Palmeiras” or “Novo Fenomeno”. He plays for Palmeiras, the “Italian” Brazilian team who are the latest team to win the Brazilian cup.
We won’t draw a comparison between Luis Nazario da Lima Ronaldo and Gabriel Fernando de Jesus. It’s a long way to the top for this teenager, although he has got what it takes to to be a star for some of Europe’s elite football clubs.
He’s 19 years old. He was born in Sao Paulo, in the favelas of Jardim Peri, and started playing football on the streets, as many other past players have done. He started playing football for the amateur Anhanguera, and at the age of 16 he scored 54 goals in just 48 appearances. He joined Palmeiras after these staggering performances. Whilst playing for the under-17 team he scored 37 goals in 22 appearances in Campeonato Paulista.
In 2014 the Palmeiras fans pleaded with the club to give him an opportunity in the first team, but Palmeiras were struggling to survive in the first division and Gabriel didn’t play a match. Maybe this has been a good thing for him, because in those situations it’s hard for young players to express themselves and showcase their talents.
Why is he so popular? He’s a forward, which is a role that Brazilian clubs and the National team are currently struggling to fill. He’s a skillful dribbler, creative and fast; in the Brazilian national youth team he has displayed good passing ability as well as some customary tricks associated with Brazilian players such as backheels and nutmegs.
He has been closely watched by a host of top European clubs such as Manchester United, Arsenal, Juventus, Roma, Internazionale and many more. All of these clubs needs a good forward and the brazilian wonderkid seems not only a hot prospect for the future but also a great deal for the present. At the moment he doesn’t want to move from Palmeiras as he said recently, but the appeal of those elite European clubs could be compelling.
With Gabriel Barbosa and Matheus Pereira he seems to be the most important player of the next generation of Brazilian footballers. He plays for Palmeiras who are a rival club to Santos and Corinthians, so their fans wanted him in the senior National team before the other young talents. And he did it: he has been called by the Brazilian first team, maybe because they lack in the forward department and have a large number of wingers and playmakers.
All of Brazil hope to see a good forward player emerge for the national team: Neymar often plays in that role, but he’s better as a winger. Could Gabriel be the player they have been waiting for?
About the author – Marco Santanche
Marco was born in Rome and supports Inter because of Luiz Nazario Da Lima Ronaldo. He is a Brazilian citizen because of his father’s roots. He played futsal for several years, even in the FIGC (Italian FA) as a winger, playmaker and striker. He is now studying for a degree in finance.