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5 Things to Know About the Young Brazilian Star & Barcelona’s New Recru

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Sao Paulo youngster Gustavo Maia has quickly emerged as one of Brazil’s brightest young talents, but you would be forgiven if you hadn’t heard of him.

The 19-year-old is actually yet to make a first-team appearance for the Brazilian side, but this has not stopped numerous sides across the world from showing an interest in him.

Barcelona, however, have seemingly ​won the race for his signature as it was recently revealed that they had already paid an initial fee of just under £1m to secure majority ownership of the youngster, but a further £3m will be paid in add ons to confirm the deal.

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So with this, we’ve decided to run through five key things to know about the rising star…

Maia may be young, but he plays with a maturity well beyond his years.

The 19-year-old can operate as a left-winger or he can also play up front, either with another partner or as the sole striker. It is this versatility that enables him to play with such confidence in all areas of the pitch.

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Even when Maia is operating as the striker, he typically tends to drift out into wider spaces, while he also has the awareness to drop deep in order to connect with his teammates and link-up play. He has the technical ability to either play intricate one-twos with another player, or to ping a cross-field pass right into the feet of a teammate. 

Equally, Maia can taunt defenders with the ball at his feet (a Brazilian who can dribble…?!). His quick feet and change of pace makes him unplayable at points. 

As alluded to above, he’s fast, he’s got a fantastic range of passing and he loves to have a go at goal – but this isn’t to say he doesn’t have flaws in his game. 

Maia is just 167cm tall (that is 5’4 or if he wishes to round up then 5’5), while he is also weighs just 59kg. Of course, there are countless professional footballers who aren’t exactly tall, and it does mean they have a low centre of gravity – allowing them to twist and turn in the blink of an eye. 

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But over time, Barcelona will be looking to build Maia’s strength up. At youth level, Maia has been shrugged off the ball, but fortunately for him, his side haven’t been punished the majority of the time. 

Make no mistake about it, Maia is a gifted footballer and his height allows him to create some of the magical moments he has done in his short career to date, but he must now look to improve his physicality in order to make himself a more complete footballer. 

When a club signs – or is closing in on – a new player, fans are always keen to know their new recruit’s stats. 

Well, due to Maia’s recent displays, he was in line to make his first appearance for the senior side, but the coronavirus pandemic caused football to be halted.

At youth level, the teenager has excelled. He has played 102 matches in the colours of Sao Paulo, progressing through the age groups. In 2016, Maia bagged eight goals in 20 appearances for the Under-15s, but it was around 2018 when teams really began to sit up and take notice of the young starlet.

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Why? Well, in his 36 games that year, he bagged 30 goals and a handful of assists to go with that for the Under-17 side. 

In 2019, for the Under-20s, Maia bagged eight goals in 28 appearances in the Brasileiro U20 and the Paulista U20 competitions. Sure, he may not have been exactly prolific, but because of his talent, he was called up to this squad despite being able to play in the age category below. Moreover, 23 of these 28 appearances came as a substitute, underlining his ability to impact games. 

Maia’s performances at the Copa Sao Paulo de Juniores recently have seen him garner even more praise. Yes, he went on to score three goals during the tournament and was a key player in helping Sao Paulo’s youngsters reach the quarter-finals, but he actually started out on the bench. 

In fact, he came on as a substitute in each of their first three games. In the opening game of the competition, he was brought on after just 20 minutes and while he wasn’t able to help his side find a winner, he was constantly picking up clever positions and was looking to create opportunities. 

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He started on the bench once again for the next game, but came on at half time to score. Finally he was rewarded with a starting berth in the fourth game of the tournament and, of course, he delivered, grabbing a goal. 

But it was the clash with Santa Cruz in the round of 16 stage that saw Maia play one of the passes of the tournament. Dropping deep, he picked up the ball and played a piercing pass through the heart of the defence, allowing a teammate to run onto the ball and cut it back for a player to score. A moment of quality to put his side in control.

And to cap off a supreme set of displays at the tournament, Maia scored a stunning half-volley from the edge of the area in the quarter-finals. These performances didn’t go unnoticed as he was quickly called up to the senior squad, where he occupied a space on the bench for the clash with Botafogo.

​Barcelona have already signed youngster Francisco Trincao, who will join up with his new club in the summer. La Blaugrana have now seemingly won the race for Maia, but he is expected to join up with Barcelona B in order to ease him into life at the club.  

But Barça needed to move quickly in order to put themselves at the front of the queue for this talented youngster as other top sides were also keen. 

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He has ​been on the radar of scouts in Spain for around two years now, while a number of Premier League clubs were also said to be keeping tabs on him. Maia has the potential to become a world class talent, it’s no wonder why he is so highly regarded in Brazil. 

For more from Adam Aladay, follow him on Twitter!





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EPL

Nottingham Forest announce signing of Andre Ayew

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Nottingham Forest have confirmed the signing of free agent Andre Ayew despite interest from Everton.

The forward has been heavily linked with a move to the Toffees in recent days, but Forest have swooped in to sign the Ghanian.

Speaking to the club’s official website after finalising the move, the forward said:  “It’s a great feeling to sign for Nottingham Forest.

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“I know how big the club is and I know how much the club means to the city and the fanbase. It’s always been difficult whenever I’ve played against Forest and at The City Ground and I love the stadium.

“Steve Cooper is someone who knows me very well and knows how to work with me both on and off the pitch. We have a strong relationship, he’s a special coach and a special human being and someone who I really look up to.”

“I know what I can bring to the team, I’m ready to give my all and make sure that we are able to stay in the Premier League.”



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Wolves vs Liverpool – Premier League: TV channel, team news, lineups & prediction

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Liverpool will be looking to make a statement with a Premier League trip to Wolves this weekend, having been dumped out of the FA Cup by Brighton last Sunday.

Jurgen Klopp’s side are without a league win in their last three attempts and have slipped as low as ninth in the table. Depending on what Chelsea do against Fulham on Friday night, the Reds could be 10th by the time they kick-off at Wolves.

Wolves are still yet to really find their groove under Julen Lopetegui, although at least remain out of the relegation zone on goal difference for the time being.

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Wolves team news

Wolves have no new injury concerns ahead of this one, with Pedro Neto, Boubacar Traore, Sasa Kalajdzic and Chiquinho all still sidelined.

Wolves predicted lineup (4-2-3-1): Sa; Semedo, Collins, Kilman, Bueno; Neves, Nunes; Traore, Sarabia, Hwang; Jimenez.

Liverpool team news

Centre-back Ibrahima Konate is the latest Liverpool player to join the injury list, ruled out until at least mid-February with a hamstring problem.

Virgil van Dijk is also still out, as are Roberto Firmino, Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota. Arthur Melo is making progress but is a couple of weeks away from resuming training.

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Liverpool predicted lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Gomez, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago; Salah, Nunez, Gakpo.

It’s certainly feasible that Wolves could continue to pile the misery on Liverpool.

The Reds had beaten Wolves in seven consecutive meetings until a recent FA Cup tie ended in 2-2 draw at Anfield. It was then only a single goal that decided the replay in the Merseysiders’ favour.

Prediction: Wolves 1-1 Liverpool

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Mason Greenwood releases statement after Greater Manchester Police drop all charges

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Mason Greenwood has released a short statement stating that he is ‘relieved’ after the Greater Manchester Police dropped all charges against the Man Utd forward.

Greenwood was charged with attempted rape, engaging in controlling and coercive behaviour and assault, allegations relating to the same woman last year and, following an investigation, GMP have confirmed that all charges have been dropped.

The GMP confirmed the news in a statement earlier on Thursday: “Given the significant media coverage of this case, it is only fair that we share the news that the 21-year-old man, who had been arrested and charged in connection with an investigation opened in January 2022, no longer faces criminal proceedings in relation to this.

“The investigation team has remained in regular contact with the legal team, providing any updates of note, and so understand the rationale for the discontinuation of proceedings at this stage, and that this decision has not been taken lightly.

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“Despite the media and public’s interest in this case, we have decided not to comment on it in any further detail.

“I would, however, like to use this opportunity to reiterate GMP’s commitment to investigating allegations of violence against women and girls and supporting those affected, regardless of their circumstances, throughout what can be a hard and upsetting time for them. An ever increasing number of officers are receiving specialist training and the force is more consistently utilising tools, available via the criminal justice system, to keep people safe and care for victims.”

Greenwood has now responded with a statement of his own, writing: “I am relieved that this matter is now over and I would like to thank my family, loved ones and friends for their support. There will be no further comment at this time.”

Manchester United are due to conducted their own internal investigation on the matter.

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