Gabriel Pereira is a 21-year-old left-footed right winger from Brazil. He arrived from Brazilian club Corinthians in March of 2022 for around $5.5 million. Pereira has fully adjusted to MLS at this point and looks like one of the best left-footed attackers in the league. His 25 chances created (through 15 matches) are the joint most on his team, alongside Santiago Rodríguez. He is also tied with Rodríguez for the team lead in goals (4) and he is tied with Richie Ledezma for most assists (3). Gabi has made 41 MLS appearances (27 starts) for a total of 2,478 minutes. In these minutes, he has scored 12 goals and provided 5 assists.
Gabi Pereira is someone you want running at defenders and cutting inside on his left foot. He is a fantastic finisher, possessing the ability to score precisely placed first time shots and unstoppable efforts from distance. Pereira is a player you want near the box as often as possible. He is capable of creating a chance all by himself and he is NYCFC’s best shooter. Pereira isn’t a winger who stays markedly wide, as he is more dangerous centrally and flourishes when he has passing options to both sides. Giving him an overlapping option means he can ask more questions of his defender 1v1, a scenario he excels in. Gabi is deceptive and patient, frequently wrong-footing defenders and creating space for a shot. He doesn’t do skills or move the ball forward just for the sake of it. There is a maturity and a purposeful nature to his game that I believe prepares him for decision-making at a top league, even at his young age.
Pereira is usually stationed at right wing in a 4-2-3-1. This formation has changed to a back 3 on a few occasions but Gabi has always remained the forward threat on the right side. Pereira makes dangerous runs in between the center back and left back, looking for a ball into the channel or to open up space for his right back to cross. He is adept in executing quick, structured combination play, yet always aware of an opportunity to get in behind or cause disorganization with creative movement. Pereira is great with his Arjen Robben style dribbling in from the left side, his hesitations and small touches freezing defenders and usually leading to a favorable shooting chance. Gabi is comfortable creating in tight spaces, but it would be cool to see how he does when there is less opportunity to take multiple touches. That being said, I don’t see any weaknesses in his game.
Gabriel Pereira is very impressive, proving to be a bright spot in a disappointing season for NYCFC. He has been rather productive when considering the outgoing transfers in his area of the pitch. NYCFC have yet to replace star forward Taty Castellanos, which has contributed to their lack of offensive production. They also parted ways with Best XI caliber right back Anton Tinnerholm this offseason, whose attacking prowess is missed (even though I like 18-year-old prospect Mitja Ilenič in replacement). Even in limited minutes last season, Pereira flashed his undeniable quality. Now as a regular starter and crucial player for his team, more responsibility is being thrust upon him. He has scored or assisted on 41% of NYCFC’s goals this season. I think he will have been generating interest with his stellar performances to the point where we may see teams in top 5 leagues inquire about his services this summer. Similar to Jhon Durán’s transfer from Chicago Fire to Aston Villa, Gabi Pereira doesn’t need to play a long time in MLS to attract serious interest so long as he is showcasing top-end talent. I believe Gabriel Pereira is a future Premier League starter and I think he could move to a top 5 league right now.