Giovani: 'The Brazilian Sancho' being linked with Man City

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When fans think of Brazilian football, they tend to imagine the beautiful game being played at speed with great technique and a fair amount of dribbling.

Carrying the ball at pace has, though, fallen out of the modern game somewhat, with heavy pressing and quick passing becoming the cornerstones of football over the past decade or so.

That is why when a player emerges who is willing to dribble with the ball while carrying an air of unpredictability about their game, they tend to excite both coaches and supporters alike.

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And that is exactly what Palmeiras teenager Giovani Henrique has been able to do since his arrival into the first-team picture at the Brazilian outfit.

Left-footed but most comfortable playing off the right, the 17-year-old winger combines his own improvisations with a tactical awareness of the game, while also possessing plenty of speed and an eye for goal.

Standing at around six foot (182 cm) tall, he has occasionally been deployed as a central striker, drawing comparisons with another Palmeiras youth product Gabriel Jesus, though in truth his main attributes are more similar to those of Jadon Sancho.

Born in Itaquaquecetuba, a city located around 40 kilometres from Sao Paulo, Giovani caught the eye of Palmeiras youth scouts at the age of 10. He was quickly enrolled into their academy system as they aimed to harness his exception futsal skills and turn him into a true footballer.

That was in 2014 and a year later he would lift his first trophy for the Verdao, winning the Sao Paulo Under-11s league title.

He soon began motoring his way through the various age-group sides, making his U20s debut as a 16-year-old while netting 14 goals in 15 games for the U17s in 2020.

Those performances caught the eye of the club's first-team coaches and, following the coronavirus-enforced shutdown, Giovani was added to the extended squad for the latter stages of the Copa Libertadores.

Though the youngster did not get on the field at any point during Palmeiras' successful campaign, he did get to witness first-hand fellow homegrown stars Gabriel Menino and Gabriel Veron play a key role in their success.

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Giovani's wait for a first-team debut, though, would not be an extended one, with Brazil's regional championships scheduled to start almost immediately after the delayed 2020 national and continental competitions were completed.

As such, Palmeiras manager Abel Ferreira was forced to select what amounted to a youth team for the first couple of months of the Campeonato Paulista campaign, allowing the likes of Giovani to shine.

Seen by the club's technical committee as the great jewel of the academy, the teenager put in a series of impressive performances, including on his Copa Libertadores debut against Defensa y Justicia in May.

“Giovani took the opportunity very well," Ferreira told reporters. "He has been showing many good signs, leaving some of the more experienced players behind.

"He is a left-footed player who is capable of unbalancing games. He has scored many points in my mind. That's what the Campeonato Paulista is for, to reveal players like Giovani.”

As the senior squad began to return ahead of the national Serie A season, Giovani's 'internship' with the first team ended in May, and he has returned to the U17 ranks to further his development.

His performances, though, did not go unnoticed.

The City Football Group, which owns Manchester City among a host of clubs around the world, is reportedly keen on signing Giovani, with their ever-growing scouting network keen to continue plucking the best talents from South America, having recently acquired Fluminense teenagers Kayky and Metinho.

As such, Palmeiras have moved to tie Giovani down to a new three-year contract, which he signed in June and includes an €80 million (£68.5m/$94m) release clause.

The club's technical committee now hope for him to return to the first-team picture over the coming months so as to fully establish himself among the senior squad.

“I want to be an idol here, like Gabriel Jesus," Giovani himself said following his senior debut.

He is on the right path to do just that, as another personification of 'O Jogo Bonito' begins to emerge in Brazil.