Scouting Time: Gabriel Veron
In this series, we take a look at some of the most interesting young talents in the world of football. Next up is Palmeiras’ 18-year-old wonderkid Gabriel Veron.
Palmeiras were crowned Libertadores champions after a narrow 1-0 win over Santos in the Maracanã, ending a 22 year wait for their second continental title.
Abel Ferreira’s side is one brimming with talented youth; Gabriel Menino’s versatility has seen him called up to the Brazil national team, Patrick de Paula and Danilo both look like great central midfield prospects, while Uruguayan left back Matias Viña is also drawing attention from Europe.
Arguably the most exciting talent on Verdão’s books, however, wasn’t on the pitch. 18-year-old wonderkid Gabriel Veron missed the final through injury but his performances in the league and the Libertadores this year have marked him out as a future star.
Hailing from Assu in northeast Brazil, he grew up dreaming of being a ranch hand like his father but – as you’d expect with anyone named after Estudiantes’ legendary midfielder Juan Sebastián Verón – the footballing gods had other ideas.
Star turns in the 2018 U17 World Club Cup for Palmeiras, scoring nine times and beating Real Madrid in the final, and then for Brazil in the 2019 U17 World Cup, where he won the Golden Ball as the Selecao won their 4th title, quickly set Gabriel Veron apart as one of the best young prospects in the country.
Veron broke into the Palmeiras first team in 2019 as a 17-year-old and promptly announced himself by scoring twice on his second senior game. He continued to find the net in 2020, scoring four in the league, two in the Copa do Brasil and another three goals in seven games in the Libertadores.
To put Veron’s start to his career in context, the young forward reached the milestone of 10 senior goals in just 29 appearances – four games less than Gabigol, 14 faster than former Palmeiras graduate Gabriel Jesus and 15 quicker than Neymar.
Watch any clip or read any article about Gabriel Veron and his electrifying pace is one of the first attributes mentioned. Nicknamed ‘Bolt’ by his teammates at youth level and said to be able to reach speeds of 38km/h by his club, his ability to stretch defenders makes him a constant threat.
This jet-heeled acceleration has seen him typically used in wider positions on either flank, where he can give his side extra width and isolate defenders in 1v1 scenarios.
Blessed with excellent close control, quick feet and an array of skills, he has averaged 5.3 dribbles and 10.73 offensive duels per 90 in the Brasileirão this season. As highlighted by his former youth coach Artur Itiro, it’s his ability to keep control at such a high speed that makes him stand out from his peers as the combination of the two is a rare gift.
However, there is much more to his game than just his speed with and without the ball. More of an inside forward than an out-and-out winger, Gabriel Veron uses his intelligent movement to get in between full-backs and central defenders and arrive in dangerous goal-scoring positions inside the box.
His goals for club and country have shown this striker’s instinct, averaging an xG of 0.35, and the map of where he typically shoots from shows that his best work is done inside the box, where he also averages 4.35 touches in the penalty box per 90.
Having said that, the range of Gabriel Veron’s finishing shows maturity, technique and composure in front of goal, which is hard to find in a player of his age.
However, not just a trigger happy forward, Veron is often looking for his teammates and likes to get to the byline to fire in low crosses or cut-backs, as demonstrated by his 6 assists to date for Palmeiras.
From deeper positions, Veron can be a bit more erratic with his crossing, so improving this would make him a more well-rounded wide forward option. What’s more, while his pace works well on the counter, when breaking down deep defensive lines and against better sides he can be guilty of going missing on occasion so improving his consistency will be another area to improve.
Already linked with a whole host of Europe’s elite – including both Manchester clubs – it would be no surprise to see him make the move sooner rather than later. He won’t come cheap though, with a buyout clause of around €60M and Palmeiras holding out for at least €30M.