The Academy - Gabriel Jesus (Brazil / Palmeiras)
Name: Gabriel Jesus
Place of Birth: Sao Paulo, Brazil
D.O.B: 3rd April 1997
Position: Winger / CF
Clubs: Palmeiras (Brazil)
When I sat down to watch Brazil U20 begin their youth World Cup campaign in New Zealand against Nigeria, I was hoping to see a couple of players catch my eye. Given the conveyor belt of Brazilian youngsters being pimped out by greedy agents and clubs alike, not to mention the whole third party ownership thing that frequents transfer deals done in South America (and some European cubs) you would be forgiven in trying to identify those kids who actually are the real deal.
I hadn’t done that much research before this game or looked into who I was about to watch but once it kicked off there was one player, to me, who stood out in that game and in the following matches in the competition. Whereas everyone was looking at Manchester United’s Andreas Pereira, Palmeiras forward Gabriel Jesus was looking like the real deal. Although his goal, which opened the scoring against Nigeria after 4 minutes wasn’t exactly a worldy, he still demonstrated the massive potential he has.
Born in Sao Paulo and standing at 5’9, Gabriel Jesus was making his mark while playing for Palmeiras’ youth side scoring goals for fun and heading the scoring charts while at that level, 54 goals in 48 matches. He has limited experience in the first team, having only signed professionally in January 2015, but he is already showing glimpses of his skill and technique but also with a mature footballing brain with someone his age. In his first 9 months as a pro he has appeared 20 times for his club, scoring 4 goals, assisting twice.
He is used as a number 10 behind the main striker for both Brazil U20 and Palmeiras youth sides, however, in his appearances for the senior side he is seen mostly on the left wing where he can cut inside, cause problems and get his shot off. He definitely isn’t a traditional winger who would run to the by line and whip in the cross, he is more of a Messi / Suarez / Neymar type of modern forward where anywhere on the front line is adequate and mostly played in a 4-3-3 formation.
Don’t get me wrong I am not saying he is as good as the names mentioned, but he does remind me of Ronaldo (The real Ronaldo R9) at times, his current frame and height suggests he may not have the kind of strength Ronaldo had to help get past players. He does have speed in his favour and if he can keep himself fit and unscathed from any serious injuries, having that pace will be invaluable in future. As he begins to grow too he will start to improve in his long shot accuracy and power which is still lacking.
Gabriel looks a serious player, one that will no doubt attract the big guns of European football. Whether he has a successful career in Europe really depends on his attitude as well as those around him, which is the case as too many young South American players can be tempted by European football and find that it doesn’t work out the way it was hoped and I’m hoping Gabriel Jesus doesn’t end up in that category. He would be best staying in Brazil making more of a name for himself and gaining more experience as a professional, he would have friends and family close which would be a massive help in his development. Staying in Brazil worked out for Neymar in the long run and the now Barcelona player, who was touted by European clubs as early as 15 years old, is one of the best player in the world. I have high hopes Gabriel Jesus can replicate his countryman, give it a couple of years and the like of Real Madrid, Manchester City, Bayern Munich and Juventus will come calling.