On Thursday (16), Gabriel Menino completed his first goal as a professional player for Palmeiras. The goal scored in La Paz, against Bolivar, by the liberators —group stage—, could have been the harbinger of an excellent year in the player’s career. And it was, for a long time. But the truth is that, due to a series of factors, Gabriel arrived at the commemorative date with less space and prestige than he had when he wrote it down — both at Palmeiras and in the Brazilian team.
Especially in the last four months, Gabriel’s importance at the club has shrunk. Due to injuries and calls for the Brazilian team, the midfielder has few games for the club this season and, therefore, modest numbers in terms of contribution.
In 19 rounds of Brazilian Nationals, Gabriel was only present in ten games, starting in only five. The last game he started playing was against the Atlético-MG, by the Brazilian Nationals, on August 14 — a 2-0 defeat. At Mineirão, he played at right-back, in place of Marcos Rocha, who was spared.
In the 2020 season, he played 61 times, made 62 passes for submissions and ten assists, leading the way in the squad — as well as scoring four goals. This year, he has zero assistance at the Brazilian Nationals, nine passes for shots by teammates —which didn’t turn into goals— and only one ball in the net, against the Guild, on July 7th.
Even if he plays all of Palmeiras’ games until the end of the year, he won’t even have 80% of the number of games he played in the previous season. Adding all the competitions, Gabriel made 24 games in the 2021 season. This is the same number of games that Palmeiras will have until the end of the year, if they win the Libertadores.
Much of Gabriel’s absence from Palmeiras games was due to his call-up for the Olympic team. But over there, he also lost space. Menino was the owner of the team’s right-back, the same role that Tite, the senior coach, called him to play in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers in October last year.
But Olympic coach André Jardine took Daniel Alves’ call-up for the Tokyo Games out of his hat at the last minute. And so, Menino played a total of 14 minutes in the tournament —8 in the final —, from which he came out with the gold medal.
Estafe believes the player is prepared for the foreign market
From the revelations of Palmeiras currently in the professional cast, Gabriel Menino is the best finished as a “product” for the foreign market. “If an interesting proposal appeared today for Palmeiras and for him, Gabriel would be 100% prepared” said his agent, Nick Arcuri, in an interview with UOL, just before his trip to the Tokyo Games.
Menino has a contract with Palmeiras until December 2024, with a fine of around 60 million euros, which today means almost R$393 million. But it is understood in the club that its market value fluctuates around 20 million euros, approximately R$122 million. A sale would be a huge relief to the club’s cash and was even expected, in a way.
Among the teams that have already probed Palmeiras and their agent for Gabriel are Atlético de Madrid (ESP), Dynamo Kiev (UCR) and Grupo City, which, among other clubs, heads Manchester City (ING). But no concrete and official proposals came from the player, who although more mature, is less in evidence.
Rock’s bad game and absences can play in Boy’s favor
After Marcos Rocha’s bad match against Flamengo —1 to 3—, last Sunday (12), there is growing expectation that Menino will be able to return to the right side of the team. Abel, however, has a man of total confidence in his shirt 2
Rocha is one of six players from the current squad who have played in the three finals of the 2020 season — Paulista, Libertadores and Copa do Brasil. He also played in the Recopa Sudamericana, in the Supercopa do Brasil and in the semifinals of the Club Mundial. The only reason he wasn’t in this year’s Paulista final was because he was injured in the quarterfinals, against the Red Bull Bragantino, on May 14th, being out of combat until June 6th.
In the middle, Abel found in Danilo, Zé Rafael and Veiga his ideal trio. Boy could even win a chance in the sector against the Chapecoense, on Sunday (19), since Zé is suspended. But Patrick de Paula is the sector’s immediate reserve, largely due to the space lost by Menino. But as Danilo didn’t finish training on Thursday (16), Gabriel’s chance of winning a spot increases.
The fact is that Gabriel has already demonstrated on the field that he can be much more useful to Palmeiras than he was so far this season. Who does not remember his performance in the semifinal against River Plate (ARG) in Libertadores 2020?
At a time when the team seems to oscillate negatively, who knows, returning to Gabriel the space he has already conquered may not be one of Abel Ferreira’s moves for Palmeiras to also recover their best moments.