Gustavo Maia is a 19-year-old forward who was born in Santa Maria in Brazil’s Federal District.
He began his footballing education at Milan-DF (a small club in his state) when he was at the young age of 11. Soon after, he joined Brasilia Futebol Academia, an academy that is known for nurturing young talented footballers before they go onto make their careers at bigger clubs.
Maia’s talent outshine most talented youngsters during the 2014 Copa Sul-Americana Amizade Joia in Adamantina, a small city in inner Sao Paulo, he was virtually the centre of attraction with his skills, pace, movements and eye for goals. He became the tournament’s top scorer, after netting 16 goals across the competition. His goals and other performances enthralled the scouts that were at the competition to scout for best young talents.
After the tournament, among other suitors, Maia was approached by Tricolor for his signature which he accepted without hesitation.
“Sao Paulo was the club that interested me the most with their structure and, of course, they are the biggest club in Brazil”, he told DF Sports of the first big move of his career.
Though the 19-year-old wonderkid is yet to make his senior debut for Sao Paulo but his performances at the junior level hasn’t gone unnoticed, which had prompted the first team manager to invite the youngster to train alongside the first team player; an indication that a senior professional debut seems closer for the youngster than ever.
During this year’s Sao Paolo Youth Cup competition, he had a slow start and a minimal contribution, whereby starting mostly from the bench but an upturn in form as seen him becoming one of Sao Paulo’s key players.
The Brazilian is a pacey presence on the left wing with strong finishing ability and an eye for a pass.
Maia is primarily a left winger with impressive pace who can as well seamlessly play as a lone centre forward due to his strong finishing and can also play alongside a partner, causing problems for the opponent defense with his off the ball movements.
Whenever he’s been tasked to play as a striker, he mostly tends to drift out into wider spaces, so as to get involve in the buildup and connect with his teammates.
His quick feet, flexibility, composure and change of pace makes him unplayable most times. He’s mostly seen going past his marker effortlessly, which earned him a comparison with former Santos wonderkid Neymar Jr.
Due to Maia’s recent performances, he was already in line to make his first senior appearance for the Sao Paolo’s first team, but the corona virus crisis which caused football to be halted, delayed his debut.
Despite not making his senior debut yet, Maia may likely leave the club without actually playing for the first team, as the fight for his signature continues to get more serious and entangled between La Liga giant Barcelona and Premier league side Liverpool.
As revealed by Sao Paulo’s sporting director, Alexandre Passaro, to ESPN Brasil, Barca have spent €1m to secure a first-option buyout for the winger.
“We’ve only negotiated a first-option clause. If Barcelona opt not to exercise it until after June 30, then the money will remain with us,” he explained. “It’s another option to raise funds without necessarily losing the player at that exact moment.”
Maia’s agent Nilson Moura said of Barcelona signing the youngster: “They came to see him at the São Paulo Cup. He scored three goals and we began to negotiate. They did not even intend to close anything then, but since there was interest from other clubs such as Atlético de Madrid and Liverpool they hurried.”
According to claims from Spain, it is believed that Liverpool still remain seriously alive in the race for the São Paulo youngster Gustavo Maia.
While Mundo Deportivo have also claimed that Jurgen Klopp continues to be interested in signing the 19-year-old.
With Barcelona needing to pay just €4m for the transfer to be concluded, there’s little assurance that the Catalan side will push forward the deal, as the Pandemic crisis has affected many clubs finances and Barcelona will as well be considering the financial implication the deal might cause on other major transfer target this summer. Which gives room for Liverpool to take advantage of the situation and finally land their target ahead of Barcelona.