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Who is Gremio star Everton Soares? Brazil’s new sensation linked to Man City, Man Utd & Milan

Marshalled from the bench by club legend and former Brazil international Renato Gaucho, Gremio have once more established themselves amongst South America's elite over the last few seasons.

The likes of Arthur and Luan inspired the Porto Alegre side to a Copa Libertadores title in 2017, while the following year and even without the wonderful talents of the current Barcelona midfielder they still fought to the semis, losing out to winners River Plate in a frenetic end to the second leg.

Gremio's bid to regain that title in 2019 is already underway, with young striking sensation Everton Soares ready to take centre-stage. The 23-year-old forward is in fine form, picking up interest from some of Europe's biggest clubs in the process as the Brazilians fear they may lose their latest gem before too long.

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Just like Arthur, Everton's arrival in Porto Alegre owes to the club's extensive domestic scouting program. The Ceara native was spotted by Gremio scouts playing for Fortaleza's youth divisions at just 16 during a cup competition and the following year had already earned a permanent transfer to the Serie A club.

Most comfortable on the left-hand side of attack, where he is adept at cutting back inside in a step that draws easy comparisons to Neymar, Everton can also lead the line as a sole striker. He has had to pay his dues in an extremely competitive Gremio side but is now an undisputed starter and key part of their offensive prowess.

It is Everton's virtuoso dribbling that first catches the eye. Blessed with incredible close control and the ability to accelerate fiercely from a standing start, the forward uses those talents to torture defenders in Brazil and South America alike. In front of goal too he is no mean finisher, often popping up to hit vital strikes for his team.

Last year's Serie A campaign saw the youngster net 10 goals and add a further three assists in just 24 starts as Gremio sealed a fourth-placed finish to ensure their Libertadores participation in 2019. He also contributed five goals to his side's continental quest, proving his nerve when it most matters and attracting attention from the likes of Manchester United, Man City and AC Milan.

Everton Luan Gremio Estudiantes Copa Libertadores 28082018Lucas Uebel/Getty

The Manchester links date back to last year, with Everton admitting to SporTV that he was keeping an open mind on a move. "We all hear the rumours at some point, right?,” he explained in November.

“I’m going through an exceptional phase, and we know how hard it is when clubs from England look at Brazilian players, for their quality.

“Let’s see what happens at the end of the season, wait until it is over, and see what’s best both for me and Gremio."

Right now though it seems that Milan are in the driving seat. The Italian giants are in the process of building a young, dynamic attack and Everton would fit straight in alongside prodigious Polish goal-getter Krzysztof Piatek and his compatriot, playmaker and fellow Brazil international Lucas Paqueta.

Indeed, the player himself has revealed that he sounded out Paqueta over life in Milan while the pair were on national team duty for March's clashes against Panama and Czech Republic.

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"Why not (play for Milan)? I even told Paqueta that, if everything goes well, we can be team-mates. I'm happy about the interest of a giant European team. Let's see what happens," he said to reporters. Reports in Brazil suggest that Milan are ready to pounce with a €40 million (£34m/$45m) offer, roughly half of the €80m release clause that currently ties Everton to Gremio.

Milan may have to move fast to make sure they secure their top target. With United keen to begin an overhaul of their squad in the summer which will most likely include an expensive injection of attacking talent and City's ever-daunting financial prowess, the Italians could soon see their position as Everton's first choice compromised.

Gremio's own struggles could also play in his suitors' favour. The Brazilians have been far from their best so far in the Copa, losing two of their opening three games. Winless so far and with Everton providing their sole goal, they lie in third place in Group H - five points shy of Universidad Catolica, who downed the Tricolor in Santiago on Thursday to move clear in the race for the last 16.

If last year's semi-finalists fail to make the knock-out rounds, the continuity of a player who is now a strong bet to make Tite's Brazil squad for the Copa America will be almost impossible beyond this summer. Paradoxically, Everton's European chances could be boosted by his own team falling short.

Not that he will allow Gremio to drop out of the Libertadores with a fight. Great things await Everton in the near future – whether they come in Italy, England or perhaps even in Brazil for a little longer yet.