Gabriel Barbosa’s time with the Inter first-team was underwhelming. The Brazilian arrived at San Siro in the summer of 2016 for €30 million, he was seen as one of the best young players in football. Comparisons with Neymar came naturally to Gabigol, because of the roots with Santos.
In his last few games of the season in Brazil, Gabigol had scored five times in 11 league games. His last full season in his home nation had seen the teenager score 10 times in 30 appearances. He had also assisted seven times.
His first season for the nerazzurri turned out to be a poor one. Gabigol played only 178 minutes in the whole season. He managed to score once. But didn’t start even a single game.
The constant managerial changes in that season never helped anyone. The club had three different managers- Frank de Boer, Stefano Pioli and Stefano Vecchi. There were reports which stated that Gabigol was signed behind De Boer’s back. It was then Santos manager Dorival Junior who talked about his former player’s issues.
He told Fox Sports (via Calciomercato):
“I did not interfere in negotiations but I told him that he should have stayed at Santos a bit longer in order to develop. When negotiations begun less than one year ago I told him that it was too early for him to leave and that he should have played several more games in Brazil before leaving.”
Dorival’s assessment seems to be fair now. After a loan spell at Benfica in the 2017-18 campaign didn’t work out, Gabigol has regained his mojo in Brazil.
He moved on loan to Santos before the end of the 2017-18 European season. For his hometown club, the forward scored 18 times in 35 appearances in the Brasileiro. A loan spell at Flamengo came after this.
In all competitions, Gabigol scored as many as 26 goals in 32 appearances. He also assisted six times. And now, Inter have a decision to make. Flamengo president has already confirmed talks with the nerazzurri about a permanent transfer.
He told Calciomercato: “For the moment there is no news, but our sports management is negotiating with Inter: the negotiations are in one preliminary phase”.
West Ham were linked with a move last January, but a move didn’t go through. But it is far from certain from Inter will definitely let the player go.
There hardly seems to be a lack of goals in Antonio Conte’s side. Romelu Lukaku has already scored seven goals, while Lautaro Martinez has scored five. Those two are Conte’s first-choice strikers in the 3-5-2, but Matteo Politano and Alexis Sanchez are just behind them.
With Sanchez currently out injured around the beginning of 2020, 17-year-old Sebastiano Esposito has been used quite often. The youngster has played three times in all competitions. He won a penalty in his debut against Borussia Dortmund. He also got into good scoring positions against Parma this past weekend.
It just shows that there is hardly an issue about a lack of options. But the performances of Gabigol have made him one of the most prolific goalscorers in world football. The manner in which he has developed in the loan spells has showed how good a player he really is. It has proved that he isn’t a player who will go down as a disappointment after so much promise.
Brazilian outlet Extra has reported that Flamengo want to offer around €20 million to sign Gabigol. But a deal like that would represent a loss, since Inter signed him for €30 million. Despite the player being in insane form, recording a loss does not make sense.
With Sanchez out injured and his return time still unknown, Gabigol returning to the Inter first-team will make loads of sense. If he returns in January and scores 3-4 goals, European clubs would offer more than €20 million. With Sanchez’s deal still a temporary one with Manchester United, Gabigol could be the man to replace the Chilean next summer too.