In the Under-17 World Cup last year in Brazil, Gabriel Veron caught the attention of world football with his intensity and hunger to score goals. He donned the Number 7 shirt for the youth team and dazzled in the tournament, which the Selecao won. After that, Veron has been a target of clubs like Manchester City, Barcelona, Arsenal, and Everton and rightly so, because, with the kind of intensity Veron plays, any clubs in Europe would want to sign him.

Veron was born in Assu, Rio Grande do Norte on September 3, 2002. He had been named in honour of the former Argentina international – Juan Sebastian Veron. The unusual idea to choose Veron, his surname is Fonseca de Souza, as Gabriel’s second name, came from a neighbour and ardent admirer of the former Argentine player.

As he said to FIFA, “I was named after former Argentina midfielder Juan Sebastian. It was our neighbour’s idea. He’d always wanted a son but ended up with three daughters. So, when my parents couldn’t decide on a second name for me [during the pregnancy] in 2002, our neighbour said: “why not call him Veron?”

“My parents liked the suggestion. I really like the name and will try to live up to it, just as he [Juan Sebastian] did. I’ve seen clips of him on YouTube but never live, unfortunately. He really was a very good player.”

“I’m certain you’ll achieve much more in your future”, said the original Veron on a video that was sent to Gabriel and shared on Palmeiras’ social media accounts in 2019.

“He’s an idol for me. I promise I’ll keep honouring our name on the pitch,” was Gabriel’s reply.

However, Veron’s life could have been very different if his father, Carlos Alexandre, had got his way during the boy’s upbringing.

Carlos Alexandre would take his son on horse rides into the countryside with a  ranch hand in Assu despite, at times, searing temperatures in the hope that he could be persuaded to become a cowboy.

His mother, though, never backed down in supporting Veron’s dream of becoming an athlete.

Nicknamed Raio, the serious steps towards the footballing world of Veron came through the youth setup of Palmeiras in 2017, from the local side Santa Cruz de Natal. In June of the following year, he was the top goalscorer and the best player of the Mundial de Clubes de La Comunidad de Madrid Sub-17, helping the under-17 squad lift their first international trophy.

In 2018, Veron signed his first professional deal with Verdao, until 2021.

Roughly one year later, after returning from international duty, he agreed to a pre-contract until 2024, active on his 18th birthday.

Veron made his first team – and Serie A – debut on November 28, 2019, coming on as a second-half substitute for Willian in a 1–0 away loss against Fluminense.

A week later, after coming on only in the second half, he scored twice and provided an assist to Dudu in a 5–1 home routing of Goias; by doing so, he became the second-youngest player to score for the club.

“He’s a boy with loads of quality, so it’s up to us to slowly give him space to play in the first team,” Andrey Lopes, Palmeiras’ caretaker manager for the end of last season, said. “I’m sure he’ll provide much joy to our fans.”

He called up for the squad which would participate in the Under-17 World Cup in Brazil. It was an unforgettable tournament for Veron and Brazil.

Veron found the net on three occasions as well as providing two assists, with the hosts beating Mexico 2-1 in the final at Estadio Bezerrao.

He also led the way in terms of chances created from open play (18) and dribbles completed (22) during the tournament, with his performances ensuring he was the clear winner of the Golden Ball for the competition’s outstanding player.

It is enough for a young player to carry his team on his shoulders and win the Golden Ball and thereby become world champions to turn the heads of the top clubs of the world.

Veron thrives on pace and acceleration, which makes him a dangerous customer during the counterattacks. His raw energy brings life into the game and when needed, he can vary his pace.

At this age, technically, he is gifted and posses a close control over the ball. Being rated as an offensive allrounder, Veron is confident and skillful with aggressive dribbling ability, good reading of the game and decision making, and very good off-the-ball movements.

Again, he is capable of playing in several offensive positions, either in the center as a striker or as a supporting striker, or as a winger

Veron prefers to play in a free attacking role granted the freedom to roam the pitch and find space – typical of the Brazils.

Surely, without freedom, the Brazilians can’t express themselves on the pitch.

With the ball at his feet, Veron can move past opponents with extreme ease and it becomes extremely difficult to knock off the ball with a low center of gravity and excellent close control. He is tricky with off-the-ball movements in and around the box of the opposition.

Brazilian legend Bebeto has vouched for Veron to Correio Brasiliense when he said, “He’s a kid with enormous talent.

“I looked for more information about him and I was impressed once I saw him wearing the No.7 producing beautiful plays.”

“I watched him score a goal dribbling from almost his own half before finding the net with a quality finish, calmly beating the opposition goalkeeper.”

Critics say Veron is one of the finest talents ever to arrive in Palmeiras since Gabriel Jesus who is now a regular member of the Brazil National Team and English Club Manchester City.

The kind of maturity and positive frame of mind Veron has, the young Brazilian is ready to take the big steps and shine.