OM: Gerson, the dreaded flop that has become unavoidable

Arrived last summer for a substantial price (€25m), Gerson took a few months to get up to speed in Ligue 1, before delivering exceptional performances. In Italy, where he did not succeed, and in his country, Brazil, we were however rather confident for his future.

All those who have seen the second half of the Marseille season have observed that an element of the workforce of Jorge Sampaoli was essential. No, it’s not Dimitri Payet, but the Brazilian Gerson. However, nothing has been easy for him since his arrival in Marseille.

Arrived last summer with the price of a substantial transfer on his back (25 million euros), the midfielder was struggling to convince. He was too slow and was moving on each duel. His teammates did not always understand, like his altercation with Mattéo Guendouzi during the defeat at the Vélodrome against Lens at the start of the season (2-3). But Dimitri Payet, Mattéo Guendouzi and the others never stopped supporting him, always inviting him for dinners or other activities. Gradually, he integrated, gave of his own and ended up having the season he had (11 goals, 7 assists, in all competitions).

The episode of number 10 hurt him

We will also have to praise the management of Jorge Sampaoli, who has always maintained his confidence in the one who was his priority during his first summer transfer window. However, before returning to Brazil, he had experienced a very complicated passage in Europe, in Italy, on the side of AS Roma and Fiorentina. Stanislas Touchot, today sent fromAFP in Marseilles and at the time in Rome, tells us.

There are things that have been complicated for him, starting with his presentation. Walter Sabatini, who was at the time the sports director of AS Roma and the most highly rated in Italy, went to look for him in Brazil then a photo of him circulated with the flocked number 10 jersey while Totti was still playing. He was immediately pushed around by Totti idolaters, who considered it a lèse-majesté crime and this put a lot of pressure on him, knowing that the Italians are quick to get carried away. So when a sporting director gives the number 10 to a player, we say to ourselves that he has found a great player and that it will hurt. And that’s not what happened “, he explains to us.

A potential that never blossomed

But then what happened next? ” His two years at Roma, and he said it, he was not yet a ready player and that’s the impression we had. When we see him now, he is strong and technical, he already had all that. While understanding that he was young and that he came from Brazil, it was difficult to understand why it was not unlocked. The impression was the same: a player who has everything it takes to be a Pogba, a Milinkovic-Savic. When you are 1.90m tall and you have this technique, you tell yourself that you can do anything. All things considered, it was a little bit the same thing as at the start of the season here, in Marseille, with less of a kind of arrogance that he may have had when he arrived in the south of France. He also had, on the other hand, this lost side. He was not helped by the coaches who put him in all positions. Sampaoli did it too, but it was more difficult to manage at that time. He played six, eight, and a lot right winger with Spalletti, there was almost nothing, except a match against Fiorentina where he scored twice. It was a disappointment and misunderstanding. We did not know what position he was playing, what he was going to be used for, he was a player who was not finished », continues Stanislas Touchot.

At Fiorentina, he started, but he had a fairly neutral season in a team that ranked poorly. We therefore understand that these three years have not been really good in Italy. But the journalist of theAFP found him in Marseilles: what surprised me was above all his ability to be decisive. That he is able to impose himself physically and technically, no, because that was already visible four, five years ago. His time in Italy, his return to Brazil and perhaps even Sampaoli, taught him. I was impressed by the tactical culture. In the worst case he was good and in the best, very good, he weighed by goals and assists. For once, this is what seemed to me the most unexpected. The rest, no. When he landed at 18, in Rome, we already felt the player’s potential “.

Brazilians are happy… and relieved

You know it, or you will have understood it, between his first European experience and his arrival in Marseille, Gerson returned to Brazil, to Flamengo where he performed. Over there, we are not at all surprised by its new dimension. ” Gerson has always had talent. That has always been clear to all who follow him. On her first passenger in Europe (at AS Roma then at Fiorentina, editor’s note), he did not adapt to Italian football, he did not manage to show his game. In Flamengo he became a spectacular player, he matured there and that prepared him better for his second adventure in Europe. Today, he is one of the main candidates for a place in Qatar with the national team, even if the battle in the middle is huge. But if FIFA authorizes lists of 26, as the CBF hopes (Brazilian federation, editor’s note)Gerson will be even more likely to be there », explains Gustavo Hofman, journalist for ESPN.

Almost the same tone for Felipe Visela, a Brazilian journalist specializing in Flamengo, who also admits a certain sadness when he left: “ when we learned that Olympique de Marseille wanted to recruit Gerson, we were obviously all disappointed, because this little guy who wore number 8 was really appreciated. And then, we were also afraid for him. After his first European failure in Italy, many have wondered here if Gerson has finally gained enough depth to win at home. Especially since we know very well that the Europeans are quite critical of the level of our Brazilian Serie A, especially on the physical level. And since Gerson didn’t really have the label of a fast, lively player… So when he struggled on his debut at OM, all this fear resurfaced, especially as we saw him evolve in a very physical and less spectacular championship than other leagues. But there was always hope. We knew that Gerson did not land totally in the unknown because he was joining Jorge Sampaoli. And finding a trainer who knows how to put you in the right conditions is always an advantage, even if no one can prevent the difficulties linked to a complicated adaptation. Seeing him bounce back during this second half of the season is therefore a very strong sign, because, for us, winning in Europe is like a sort of validation of your potential, especially if you have aspirations vis-à-vis of the Seleção “.

Like the Marseillais, Felipe Visela admits a pleasure and a certain relief in seeing the midfielder perform: “ today, it is a real pleasure to see that he has finally taken the measure of the French championship. We see him impactful and decisive in such a physically tough championship. In Brazil, he always had these qualities of a strong midfielder in the transition phase, able to play vertically and hold the ball. But when he started in France, all that was obviously crushed by the weight of his expensive transfer (€25m, editor’s note) and a new change in culture. So I would say that it’s not really a surprise to see him evolve at this level, but rather a real relief. When you see a player considered one of the best in the Brazilian league failing miserably in Europe, it hurts. Gerson was able to show that he had finally thickened his leather with age and that he has character. Besides, even if today it’s financially impossible, many would like to see him return to Flamengo“. One thing is certain, whether on the other side of the Atlantic, the Alps or in our beautiful regions, Gerson ended up getting everyone to agree.

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