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Gabriel Pereira leaving NYCFC for club in Qatar: Report

Pereira is on the verge of a transfer to Al-Rayyan SC in Qatar, with NYCFC set to lose its leading scorer after less than 18 months with the team.

Griffin Zetterberg-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATED SATURDAY, JULY 22, 2023: Gabriel Pereira’s transfer to Al-Rayyan in Qatar for a reported $10 million was officially announced by the club.

The summer transfer window started with New York City FC adding two players as reinforcements, and now may see the team sell its leading scorer.

Gabriel Pereira is on the verge of a transfer away from NYCFC to join a club in Qatar, according to a report from Tom Bogert of The Athletic.

Fabrizio Romano adds the name of the club signing Pereira, which is apparently Al-Rayyan SC in Qatar’s Qatar Stars League. The Italian transfer expert describes negotiations between NYCFC and Al-Rayyan as “advanced.”

Pereira only signed with NYCFC last March, joining from Corinthians in his native Brazil as a U22 initiative signing. He’s steadily become one of NYCFC’s most dangerous attacking players since debuting in MLS last April, leading the team with six goals in 2023 after scoring eight goals in 2022.

Pereira has made 48 appearances for NYCFC since joining but his final one may have come in the road loss in Philadelphia, a sub appearance that raised eyebrows given its timing—Pereira didn’t enter until the 82nd minute despite NYCFC trailing the Union from the fifth minute on.

Post-match following that defeat to the Union, I asked NYCFC head coach Nick Cushing about Pereira’s late introduction (and the complete absence of Talles Magno from the match day squad), and Cushing sidestepped discussing either player or their specific situation. Seems clear now, if it wasn’t then, that there was more going on behind the scenes as it related to Gabriel Pereira than NYCFC would have liked to discuss publicly.

Where does NYCFC turn post-Pereira? Any optimism for salvaging the 2023 season thanks to the additions of striker Mounsef Bakrar and center back Birk Risa will take a big hit with the official departure of the team’s leading scorer and one of the best young up-and-coming wingers in MLS.

The financial terms of the deal to sell Pereira are still unknown. Pereira arrived at NYCFC for a price reportedly over $5 million, so one would assume that NYCFC are making a profit of some kind to move the 21-year-old Brazilian on to Qatar.

Who will replace those left-footed laserbeam goals that became GP’s specialty since arriving in 2022? The answer to that question lies with NYCFC sporting director David Lee, who is overseeing one of the more stop-and-start, topsy-turvy MLS roster rebuilds in recent memory. Players left in droves this winter and have kept on leaving during the 2023 season—Thiago Andrade, Malte Amundsen, Tony Alfaro, Gabriel Pereira, even Taty Castellanos finally was officially sold this season.

The flow of new talent coming to join the Boys in Blue in New York City has not been as steady, and now another glaring roster hole looks set to open. The assets and roster slots are in place for NYCFC and David Lee to make positive additions. Lazio just agreed to pay up to €20 million in exchange for Taty, Al-Rayyan is likely paying a pretty penny for Pereira, and NYCFC would now have two unused U22 initiative roster slots if Pereira completes his move to the Middle East.

It’s now a matter of waiting and seeing if NYCFC chooses to spend that transfer war chest this summer to fill those open roster slots, or if the seemingly never-ending roster rebuild that kicked off when NYCFC’s 2022 season ended will drag on through this coming offseason.