Another U-23 Countdown, another article on Roma’s resident Brazilian wonderkid. Gerson may only clock in at number five on this year’s rankings, but he’s still got all the tantalizing potential that made him such a sought-after prospect in 2016. His dropoff in the rankings is mainly due to his lack of play-time under Luciano Spalletti; will Eusebio Di Francesco give him the playtime he needs to become a key member of the midfield rotation?
Number Five: Gerson Santos da Silva
Position: CM, CAM
Current Club: AS Roma
Rank Last Year: #2
Future Comparison: Paul Pogba
Who Is He?
Gerson is essentially the same player he was last summer: young, inexperienced, but full of tantalizing potential. Born in Belford Roxo, Brazil, Gerson played for Fluminense until the summer of 2016, where he joined up with Roma for a cool €16 million.
If the 2015/2016 season was when Gerson built up enough renown to pique the interest of European super-clubs, the 2016/2017 season was when he came back down to earth. For somewhat unclear reasons, Luciano Spalletti gave the Brazilian wonderkid next to no playtime, and Gerson only logged 400 minutes overall in his inaugural season at the Olimpico. The talent is still there, as this summer’s international tour has shown; Gerson has looked calm and collected on the ball, providing the pin-point passes that could help Roma fill a playmaking hole still left over from Miralem Pjanić’s transfer to Juventus.
What Can He Do?
During his limited playtime last season Gerson was played all over the place, but it’s safe to say that he is most comfortable as a playmaking midfielder. To crib from last year’s review of the wonderkid (hey, it’s not like much has changed):
Gerson’s calling cards are his strength, power, speed and awareness on the field, and if he can translate his abilities to Serie A quickly, we may have a long-term replacement for Miralem Pjanić already in-house. While at Fluminense, he often played on the wing in a 4-2-3-1 formation, but he’s also seen as comfortable in a more Perotti-esque role, controlling the center of the pitch and dictating play.
Only time will tell how he fits into Eusebio Di Francesco’s tactical system, but at the moment he is slotting in as a midfielder. He still has incredible awareness on the pitch, and he still has the ability to fire off Nainggolan-like shots.
What Can He Become?
I’m still holding out hope that Gerson can be Roma’s long-term replacement for Miralem Pjanić - he’s certainly got the potential to do so, he just needs a manager who can trust him more than Luciano Spalletti did. Considering the playtime that he’s received from Eusebio Di Francesco so far, it looks as if Gerson may have a spot in the new manager’s side. If he seizes his chances and forces himself into Roma’s best-in-class midfield, the Giallorossi will have some beautiful playmaking ability to add to their squad.
Predict Gerson’s future:
This poll is closed
He’ll develop into an important rotational midfielder.
He’ll be the breakout star of the season: think Emerson 2016/2017.
He’ll continue to be best buds with the bench. Hey, at least it’s a comfy seat.
He’ll be sent off to a mid-table Serie A side in January.