Tuesday 28 November 2017

What's up with Gabigol? 'The new Neymar' has played just 332 minutes of football since leaving Santos

You probably first heard of him years ago, his name whispered on the wind (or perhaps just Football Manager forums) like a secret.

'Gabigol' they called him and it was not hard to see why: he scored over 600 times at youth level for Santos and made his first-team debut at 16.

By the time he joined Internazionale, three days before his 20th birthday, he had racked up 56 senior goals in 154 appearances. €29.5million was a hefty fee, but his numbers justified it.

But since that move, 15 months ago, Gabriel Barbosa has played just 332 minutes of football. I look at his plight in my latest Unibet column.

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Malcom X-factor: Ligue 1's 'other' brilliant Brazilian is ready to take off after conquering Bordeaux

At times, it has been as if he is holding his own personal Ligue 1 Goal of the Season competition: witness his crackerjack equaliser against Lyon, the laser-guided curler against Toulouse or his surge against Nantes.

No wonder Bordeaux coach, Jocelyn Gourvennec views 20-year-old Brazilian forward Malcom as one of the best players in France – and no wonder Europe's giants are beginning to circle after an explosive start to the season.

But it's not just his attacking returns that make the youngster special. Named after Malcom X, he has the maturity and confidence beyond his years and has been planning for superstardom since for three years.

Read my piece about Ligue 1's other brilliant Brazilian on the Unibet blog.

Monday 13 November 2017

Roberto Firmino interview: 'We have restored Brazil's reputation, playing joyful football. That is our essence'

“That defeat to Germany was a really big blow to all Brazilians. But we put it into our heads that what happened then doesn't matter anymore; it's what we do from now on that counts.

“The team spirit couldn't be better. We have been able to restore Brazil's reputation, playing joyful football that is respected around the world. That is our essence.

"Professor Tite is a brilliant coach, with a unique way of working, but he's also a marvellous person. He makes everyone feel at ease. It's because of his manner that the team spirit as good as it could possibly be. He transformed the atmosphere, imposed his style of play and everyone embraced his ideas."

Ahead of Brazil's game against England, I interviewed Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino. See what he had to say about Philippe Coutinho, his slow ascent to stardom and plenty more at The Independent.