The scouts of Real Madrid would be present at the Maracana for the finals of the Copa Libertadores where Santos would meet Palmeiras. The scouts would monitor the talents which include, Gabriel Veron, Marcos Leonardo, Patrick de Paula, and Gabriel Menino.  Previously, CricketSoccer posted about Gabriel Veron and Marcos Leonardo and today, let us know about the latest sensation back in Brazil – Gabriel Menino.

Born in Morungaba, Sao Paulo, Menino joined the Palmeiras youth setup in 2017 from Guarani. In his first year at the club, he was a member of the Copa do Brasil Sub-17 winning team.

On November 25, 2019, Menino was promoted to the first team ahead of the 2020 season.

Gabriel was a key factor in Palmeiras’ Paulista state championship victory at the start of 2020 and has swiftly become a regular in both Brasileirao and Libertadores campaigns.

He made his debut in January 2020, in a 4–0 win over Ituano in the Campeonato Paulista, playing the full 90 minutes.

He scored for the first time on September 17, 2020, in a 2–1 win over Bolívar in the Copa Libertadores.

Palmeiras may have sailed through their Libertadores group with ease, but their slightly underwhelming league form saw Vanderlei Luxemburgo lose his job last month.

After a protracted search, the team known as Verdao followed the current Brazilian trend of appointing European coaches and brought in Abel Ferreira.

The 41-year-old Portuguese manager comes into a squad stacked with talented youth.

From Uruguayan left-back Matias Vina to wonder-kid forward Gabriel Veron, there are a number of exciting prospects which, along with a favorable side of the draw, should bolster Palmeiras’ chances of making it big this season.

And, ultimately, they would feature in the finals at Maracana.

Perhaps the most interesting young player on Palmeiras books right now comes in the form of Gabriel Menino, whose excellent performances have earned him call-ups to the last, two Brazilian national team squads.

What has been particularly noteworthy is Gabriel’s versatility.

Typically a mixed midfielder, Gabriel actually started out as a center-back and this defensive nous, combined with his energy and positional intelligence, has seen him deployed at right-back too.

Whether it is in central midfield, on the wing, or at full-back, Gabriel is a player who gets up and down the pitch and generally likes to be on the front foot. This season he has averaged 9.69 offensive duels per 90, bettered only by teammate Gustavo Scarpa, while his figure for progressive runs (2.67 per 90) is also among the best in his position.

According to Wyscout last year, “While not necessarily known for his dribbling, Gabriel is posting a solid 4.27 dribbles per 90 minutes so far this season, which again is equally useful when playing wide or centrally and also displays his comfort on the ball.”

“Boasting a pass completion of 84.4%, Gabriel looks after the ball well and his good range of passing also helps with his flexibility to play in numerous positions. As well as keeping possession in his own third or spraying out long diagonals, he also has the creativity and vision to contribute in the final third in a more attacking midfield role, as shown by the incisive through ball below.”

“Another facet of Gabriel’s varied passing is his good crossing ability. When operating in wider positions, he can swing in a mean delivery, while his corner kicks have been the source of three of his five assists this year.”

“Returning to the defensive side of his game, Gabriel’s all-action displays show that he thrives without the ball as much as with it. Averaging 8.82 defensive duels in his own third and 6.14 recoveries per 90, it shows Gabriel’s aptitude in breaking up play thanks to his excellent positioning, reading of the game, and ability to press.”

It is this defensive solidity paired with an impressive ability on the ball that makes him such an alluring option for Tite as an alternative at right-back for the Selecao.

Rather than have the traditional full-backs bombing forward, Tite has shifted more towards inverted full-backs, able to contribute as extra midfielders in-field and play a key role in orchestrating attacks more centrally.

Gabriel’s ability to build play from deep, his tactical flexibility, and strength in both offensive and defensive duels make him a prime candidate to act as the potential candidate as the right-back for Brazil.

In September 2020, he received his first call up to the full side.

“It was an indescribable feeling. The Brazilian national team is the ultimate for any player and it was only my first year as a professional. I remember getting there and looking at players I played video games. I just couldn’t believe it. It took me a while to take in. Everyone was so cool with me and the quality of the players was something else. I learned a lot. It was incredible to be there and it made me so determined to keep getting called up,” Menino expressed his feelings while talking to FIFA.

But, right now, that memorable night in Argentina is still regarded as one of the most significant stories in his career so far.

Gabriel Menino stood out for Palmeiras as the Brazilian club took River Plate apart in the semi-finals of the Copa Libertadores.

He said, “I feel like I’m in a dream. (laughs) Everything has happened so, so quickly. My professional debut, the first title, my first goal, the Seleção, that night in Argentina, reaching the [Libertadores] final – every step has felt like a dream. It seems like yesterday that I was a supporter. It’s hard to believe, but at the same time I’ve said since day one that I don’t just want to be another player – I want to go down in the history of this club.”

“When I’m at the club [headquarters] I look at the photos of legends who have made history at the club and I think, ‘I want to see my photo there’. How good would it be to become an eternal idol at one of the biggest clubs in the world?”

Menino sounded confident about the success of Palmeiras in the finals.

“I’m very confident. We’re taking Santos very seriously, they have a very strong team. The Libertadores is a great competition – it involves so much passion and emotion – and I think the final will be a great spectacle not just for Brazil, but for the world. Two great sides, both score goals, a derby. But every time I think about it I envision Palmeiras as champions. We have great players who work for each other, a great team, a great squad, a coach who gets the best out of us. We have so much heart and great belief. The Palmeiras supporters are fanatical, unbelievably passionate. ’99, it’s been too long – I wasn’t even born. We are determined to win the Libertadores trophy for them. I firmly believe we will become champions.”

Whatever the outcome may be, Menino impressed not only in Brazil but outside Latin America as well.

He is monitored by Real Madrid and other top European clubs.

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Until now, Real Madrid have been the home for the young talents from Brazil. The arch-rivals Barcelona would chase the talent, but Perez is sharper and smarter than others. He won’t let such a versatile talent sign any other club.

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