The French Connection: Gabriel Boschilia - the brilliant Brazilian reborn at Nantes

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The ex-Brazil Under-20 winger is one of a host of foreign imports impressing in Le Championnat - the League of Talents

Winger Gabriel Boschilia may have been on Monaco’s books since 2015 but he has only once visited the principality’s famous casino. 

“I only played with €50,” he explained to UOL Esporte. “I only lasted three minutes.”

Little wonder, though, that the 22-year-old is not a gambling man, for fate has not smiled kindly on his young career. But for a serious knee injury, he might have been uttered in a similar breath to players like Bernardo Silva, Benjamin Mendy, Fabinho or Thomas Lemar as a youngster polished off into the finished article by the Stade Louis II club.

Instead, he finds himself on loan at Nantes, seeking to recapture the level that made him a valuable member of the team that stunned Paris Saint-Germain to win the 2017 Ligue 1 title. 

Both Boschilia and Monaco are acutely aware that those days have gone, but with his parent club down in 19th in the standings, there is little doubt that it is the player who is faring better currently.

Gabriel Boschilia Monaco 2016-17

Indeed, the 22-year-old is starting to show glimpses of the level that saw him become increasingly prominent for Monaco in the 2016-17 season. He finished that campaign with eight goals, three assists and a reputation as a dead eye from long range, but also with a set of crutches gained following a cruciate ligament rupture in February.

His recovery has been a painstaking one. He made only seven appearances in total last season, mustering a mere 155 minutes of competitive football for the first team, and it was evident a change of scenery was required in order to rediscover his best.

“The Monaco management realised that I needed to play more, to be given a chance, and they understood me,” he explained.

In Nantes, the former Brazil Under-20 star has that exact opportunity. Under Vahid Halilhodzic, Les Canaris are playing an offensive brand of football designed to exploit the best of the left winger, who has struck up a fine relationship with enterprising full-back Lucas Lima and, pertinently, 10-goal striker Emiliano Sala.

Indeed, he is now one of Ligue 1’s form players, having scoring three and creating four in the last six league outings, and only once failing to make some kind of decisive contribution in those matches.

“I’ve always liked the simple things, so I’m more comfortable in Nantes than in a very big city,” he said, reflecting on his switch to Brittany. “Everything’s going very well. My family like it a lot. We’ve got a house. In Monaco, we’ve only got an apartment, which can be a bit of hassle.”

The principality, however, is where his future appears to be tied. Thierry Henry’s side signed him to a fresh contract that runs until 2021 before he moved away on a temporary deal that does not include a purchase option.

Boschilia, meanwhile, insists that he is simply trying to put together as strong a run of form as possible. And there is more to come from the Guarani and Sao Paulo youth product, who has yet to treat Stade de la Beaujoire to one of his trademark free kicks, for which he has already grown famous.

Henry will certainly be monitoring Boschilia's progress with interest from afar, doubtless wishing he could call upon the South American in the midst of his club’s injury crisis.

Boschilia may not be a gambling man, but if he continues to regain his form at this pace, he looks a sure bet to be involved at his parent club next season.

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