Le50 2017 – Gabriel Boschilia

Boschilia ASM

Monaco’s recent policy of investing in youth has paid clear dividends, particularly last season after keeping hold of their best players over the summer of 2016, rather than cashing in as in previous years. This summer is inevitably seeing slightly more turnover, with some of the 2016/17 champions sold on. This could allow one of last season’s bit-part players to take more of a starring role.

Brazilian Gabriel Boschilia was signed by Monaco in the summer of 2015 for €9 million, when still only 19. Despite his young age, Boschilia had already begun making a name for himself. Having made just under a half-century of appearances for Sao Paulo, it was in Brazil’s youth teams that the attacking midfielder really shone, with 10 goals scored in 17 matches for the under-17s and under-18s. In the younger age group he finished as the tournament’s second-top scorer with six goals in four matches at the 2013 under-17 World Cup – that despite Brazil being knocked out at the quarter-final stage (he did not play in the defeat to Mexico). And his move to le Rocher came after he had scored two more goals as Brazil finished runners-up in the 2015 under-20 World Cup.

Boschilia barely featured for Monaco in his first season at the club, making just one league start and five substitute appearances before being loaned to Standard Liege for the second half of the season, where he impressed with two goals and two assists in nine starts.

Monaco’s plan was to loan Boschilia out again for 2016/17, with Nantes looking a likely destination, as Monaco lined up against les Canaris in the second match of the season. The match coming in between two Champions League qualifiers against Villarreal, Leonardo Jardim played a second-string side, including Boschilia on the left. The young Brazilian grabbed his opportunity, scoring the only goal of the game – a brilliant free kick – causing Jardim to reconsider and keep him in the Principality for the season “to enable Lemar or Bernardo Silva to have a rest”.

Until a cruciate ligament rupture against Metz in early February (it happened near the pitch-side microphone – not for the faint-hearted…) ended his season, Boschilia continued to play his back-up role very effectively, with 16 appearances in all competitions, starting nine, and contributing eight goals and three assists. Three of those goals came from direct free kicks, including an excellent opener as Monaco beat Marseille 4-0.

Free kicks are not the only string to Boschilia’s bow, however. The left-footed attacking midfielder, who is able to play anywhere across the pitch behind the front man, impresses with and without the ball. Always making himself available, he has excellent close control and can break lines either by finding space, beating his man or displaying his range of long and short passes. His goal tally is evidence that he is also a calm, accomplished finisher. He is prone to occasional selfishness but that should abate with experience. The promise that he showed during his brief cameos reportedly prompted Arsenal to make enquiries.

Boschilia’s injury was a cruel blow to a young man who was just beginning to acclimatise to Monte Carlo life after the shock to the system of his arrival : “Everything is extortionate. When you receive the bill [in the café] you really get a fright. And the casino? I went once, with 50 euros. I lasted three minutes”. Neutrals, as well as all those at Monaco, will hope that he can return to full fitness as the new season begins.

Thomas Lemar is rightly being courted by many of the biggest clubs in Europe, and Monaco are unsurprisingly reluctant to sell. However, should they do so, they have in their reserves a ready-made replacement, whose magical left foot could ensure that Lemar’s would not be so sorely missed.

Jeremy Smith

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