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Bremer

From selling ice cream to starring in Serie A: Why Liverpool are tracking Torino centre-back Bremer

4:00 AM EDT 4/9/22
Bremer Torino Empoli Serie A 2021-22
Inter may be leading the way but, as revealed by GOAL, the Reds are also in the race to sign arguably the best centre-back in Serie A right now

When Torino hosted Juventus in November 2019, Gleison Bremer acquitted himself well.

The Granata may have been beaten 1-0 by their city rivals, but the inexperienced 22-year-old centre-back at the heart of their three-man defensive line had performed impressively.

Bremer, though, realised that night just how much he still had to learn.

"I found myself facing a world-class striker like [Gonzalo] Higuain," he told Andresinho Marques in an Instagram interview the following month. "A few years ago, I was admiring his play on TV, then I was marking him in the derby!

"I know I'm not at the level of players like that, but I can get there with hard work."

Bremer would never claim to have reached that level now; he's too humble for that. But his growth over the past three years has been staggering.

After all, Juventus have a new expensive striker in the formidable ex-Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic, whom Bremer has gone up against twice this season.

On both occasions, the joint-top scorer in Serie A was completely marked out of the game.

As Torino coach Ivan Juric put it after January's 1-1 draw at Juventus Stadium, "Bremer cancelled out Vlahovic."

That's not bad for a defender who freely admits that he didn't know how to man-mark when he arrived in Italy.

"In Italy, one defends in a totally different way," he told his club’s official TV station last month. "In Brazil, man-marking doesn't exist, but [former Torino boss Walter] Mazzarri taught me, together with his staff."

Unsurprisingly, it took some time for Bremer to adapt, particularly as there were linguistic issues, given he had arrived without a word of Italian.

Those early days were undeniably tough. He rarely featured during his first season in Turin and grew increasingly frustrated. 

Goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu played a key role in convincing him to bide his time.

"He always believed in me," Bremer told Torino Channel. "After every training session, he used to tell me to continue working hard, that my moment would arrive."

Bremer also reminded himself why he was in Italy. 

Torino sporting director Gianluca Petrarchi had convinced him to join from Atletico Mineiro in 2018 because Serie A was the best league in the world for a young defender to become a great one.

Learning his trade, then, was never going to be easy. 

But this is not a man who is afraid of hard graft or sacrifice. He began helping his father out on the family farm as a small boy.

During the early days of his youth-team career, meanwhile, he used to sell ice cream to help pay for trips to away games.

At Torino, Mazzarri also repeatedly told him that 2019-20 would be his season, and so it proved, with Bremer belatedly nailing down a regular starting spot during the second half of the campaign.

He has improved exponentially since then, becoming arguably the most in-demand centre-back in Serie A.

Indeed, when Torino faced Inter last month, there were reportedly scouts from Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham in the crowd as Bremer opened the scoring in a 1-1 draw.

The following day, several Italian media outlets claimed that the Nerazzurri had effectively wrapped up a deal to sign him at the end of the season.

Inter certainly lead the way but, as GOAL revealed on Thursday, Liverpool are still tracking Bremer.

Jurgen Klopp's squad is presently well-stocked with centre-backs but Joe Gomez's future at Anfield remains uncertain and should the injury-prone England international depart during the summer, the Reds would have a void to fill.

Bremer would make for an excellent replacement, given his age, his ability to play at right-back and the fact that he would likely be available for around €25 million (£21m/$27m).

That's an extremely attractive price for such a talented defender with two years left on his contract.

However, while Bremer extended his deal from 2023 to 2024 in February, he did so primarily as a favour to Torino, who risked losing him for a smaller fee this summer.

"He has great ambitions but he understood that the club has given him a lot and he wanted to recognise that," Juric told reporters in February. "He put the club in a position to remain calm."

His exit, then, remains inevitable and it's easy to understand why.

Bremer is a powerful but classy centre-half, a colossus in the air who also reads the game wonderfully well.

It's no coincidence that he has made more interceptions (96) this season than any other player in Europe's 'Big Five' leagues, while, among defenders, he ranks No.1 for recoveries (251) and third in aerial duels won (114).

As well as mastering his primary role, he has also developed into a serious goal threat for Torino.

Since opening his account in November 2019, no centre-back has scored more times in Serie A (11). The only one to have scored more goals during that time across Europe is Sergio Ramos (12).

Of course, Bremer's fondness for getting forward is perhaps unsurprising given his defensive idol is Lucio, the brilliant ball-playing Brazilian who regularly stepped out of the backline to join attacks for Bayern Leverkusen, Bayern Munich and Inter.

"As kids, everyone wants to score," he has previously stated. "There is no better feeling."

AC Milan will certainly have to pay careful attention to Bremer at set-pieces on Sunday night, when they travel to Torino for what is a crucial game for the Serie A leaders.

The Rossoneri have also been struggling to score of late, so going up against Bremer is hardly an enticing prospect for Olivier Giroud & Co. 

Indeed, this is a player who is no longer in awe of Serie A's star strikers. On the contrary, Bremer now believes himself capable of "marking all of Europe's great champions".

The only doubt now is where he will be doing so next season.