Goalkeeper Gabriel was named to Bahia’s professional squad for the first time by coach Guto Ferreira. The game was for the Bahia Championship, and the tricolor won 4-1 over Jacuipense (12/3). The teenager, who is just 17 years, 7 months, and 11 days old, is one of the club’s youngest bench players ever.
Gabriel, although never having played in the main squad, is already used to life in this atmosphere and is therefore regarded as one of the most promising prospects in the Bahia tricolor’s basic divisions. He has been practicing with professional players since he was 14 years old.
Since his arrival in Bahia in 2018, at the age of 13, he has been recognized for “skipping stages.” At the time, the goalie should ideally practice with just the under-14s, but when goalkeeper coach Duda, who is also in charge of the under-15s, saw the boy’s potential, he continuously “promoted” the goalkeeper to train with his much older counterparts.
So far, all expectations at the base have been met. The 1.93-meter goalkeeper has previously been called up to the Brazilian junior squad after winning the Bahia Under-17 and Under-20 Championships. He also started all six of Bahia’s games in the 2022 Copa So Paulo de Futebol Junior, where the team was ousted in the round of 16 stage (5-1 to Mirassol).
Despite the loss, Gabriel’s effort in “Copinha” will go down in history as he became the competition’s youngest goalie to participate in the round of 16.
However, if he wants to win the Tricolor de Aço later this year, the athlete from Esprito Santo will have stiff competition. Alongside the youngster, goalkeepers César (30 years old, ex-Flamengo) and Danilo Fernandes (34 years old, ex-Internacional) will vie for the post of primary goalie.
Gabriel has already become a target of European football
Gabriel has already attracted the interest of prominent European football teams, who have made first contact with Bahia to sign him before even touching the pitch as a professional and attaining the age of majority.
Chelsea in England and Valladolid in Spain (whose owner is Ronaldo “Fenômeno”) are both interested in the teenage goalkeeper, according to a recent report by Marinho Saldanha of the UOL site. A proposition has already been made by the Spanish club.
Valladolid offered € 2 million (about R$ 10.3 million at current exchange rates) for 70 percent of the athlete’s commercial rights. Bahia, on the other hand, have no intention of releasing the player for less than his € 7 million (R$ 36 million) release clause.
According to TNT Sports, Roma in Italy, Shakhtar in Ukraine, and Nice in France have all conducted player surveys but have yet to make a formal proposal.
Other youngsters in the Bahia squad
Check out the list below to see which other young players from Bahia’s youth divisions have made it onto the professional team.
- André (winger), 19 years old;
- Douglas Borel (winger), 20 years old;
- Marco Antônio (midfielder), 24 years old;
- Marcelo Ryan (striker), 19 years old;
- Patrick de Lucca (defensive midfielder), 22 years old.
Bahia is one of the most popular teams in the Brazilian Northeast, with a large fan following. The team, which was founded in 1931 and is based in Salvador, plays its games in the Fonte Nova Arena, which seats 50,000 people.
The major titles in Tricolor de Aço’s history were two Brazilian Championship victories: in 1959 and 1988. The team is now in the Brasileiro’s second level, having been demoted in 2021.
Bahia have a habit of giving young goalkeepers an opportunity, and goalkeeper Jean, ex-Sao Paulo and currently at Cerro Porteo in Paraguay, was recently named in the starting lineup. Ronaldo Passos and Roberto Bahia were two more notable individuals who came from the base and became proprietors of the club’s position.