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Gabriel Vasconcelos Ferreira: The Boy in the Net

Even before the transfer market opened this summer, news of a young Brazilian keeper coming to Milan broke. He came from Cruzeiro and was set to replace Flavio Roma in the third keeper spot. His name was one of those multi-syllable, multi-name Brazilian ones that I struggle with: Gabriel Vasconcelos Ferreira. So I was glad to know we could simply call him Gabriel. But who was this mere boy who could possibly, in some unforeseen circumstance, be minding the nets for my Milan?

Wow, he's giant... oh, wait, that's just a small practice goal

Gabriel is a mere 20 years old, but is an imposing 1.93m (6 ft. 4 in.) tall. He began his footballing career in the youth teams of Cruzeiro and then made his way to the first team in 2010. There he sat, having made zero appearances for the club, although he did make the bench four times up through this past season. So technically, he can lay claim to their Campeonato Mineiro trophy in 2011.

But it is his International career that must have caught the eye of the Milan scouts. In February of 2011, he represented the Brazil Under-20 team as they won the South American Youth Championship, playing in eight of nine matches. He also started every match for the U-20 team in the FIFA U-20 World Cup, which Brazil went on to win.

A young hero for Brazil

This summer, he got a late callup to Brazil’s Olympic team, where he featured in four matches. He had some very impressive moments, but also some moments where he showed his inexperience. Still, he has an Olympic silver medal to show for it. And, he impressed enough to get a callup for a senior team friendly shortly thereafter in a match where Brazil beat Sweden with him in the net. How many keepers have a senior national team cap before their 20th birthday?

He is still so very young, and definitely needs to get as much experience as possible to become a world class keeper. To that end, he has made a number of appearances with our Primavera squad. Rumor has it that he may be loaned out in January, too, to get some more first team experience. But at just 20 years old, he still has time to learn and grow and prepare for what should be a very bright future.

The future is bright for the Brazilian

There are a lot of questions as to why Milan made this move when they did. Yes, we need to groom an eventual replacement for Abbiati and Amelia. But it could easily be five years before Gabriel is ready to fill those shoes, and he needs to get every minute of first team playing experience he can during that time. Even still, he may not work out, purchasing him at 19 years old is a bit of a risk.

Secondly, Piscitelli was on our bench last year for a lot of the season while Flavio Roma battled injuries. If he was good enough to be our third keeper then, why not loan out Gabriel immediately and keep Piscitelli? Instead Piscitelli is at Carrarese and Gabriel, who actually cost money at a time when the club was screaming crisis, is warming the bench for Milan. And he took up a non-EU slot, too. When the deal was originally arranged, Gabriel was supposed to be getting a Portuguese passport so he would be considered an EU player. However, that fell through and the club still kept him, even before the mercato was officially open.

Just wait, give him time. The investment will pay off.

Add to that the rumors that Milan are now interested in the Genoa-owned 20 year-old Mattia Perin, who has one cap for Genoa, 25 for Padova, and 10 starting for Pescara in Serie A in addition to his callups for the youth national teams. He is also Italian, so doesn’t take up a non-EU slot. He is probably the 20 year-old we were looking for this summer, but jumped the gun.

Whether or not it was a stroke of genius to grab Gabriel while he was available, or whether it was a bungled transfer error, he is a Milan player, and as such deserves our faith. Let’s hope that he is a diamond in the rough, and hope that our club does the right thing for him to ensure he develops into a keeper worthy of Milan highlights. Personally, I am anxious to watch the boy in the net become a world class keeper, wearing the red and black. Forza Gabriel!


This post inspired by the music of AC/DC


Our next match is
Catania vs. Milan
Friday, November 30 • 20:45 CET (2:45pm ET)