Premier League Clubs Willing to Rescue Gabigol from Inter Milan
As one of the most exciting Brazilian forwards of his generation, 20-year-old Gabriel Barbosa is at a strange stage of his career.
Less than 12 months on from a €29.5 million move from Santos to Inter Milan, he is facing up to whether it is already time to move on.
Sources have revealed that as many as eight Premier League clubs have enquired about signing Gabigol this summer.
And now we wait to see how the forward, who has two goals and four caps for Brazil, decides to move forward.
Unleashing the Potential
Gabigol made his professional debut at the tender age of 16 as a late substitute at home to Flamengo. For 21 minutes he even shared a pitch with Neymar, himself playing his final minutes before departing for Barcelona.
It was the only time Neymar and Barbosa would play together for Santos, but there have always been comparisons between the two players, largely due to the fact they were born 80km or so apart in Sao Paulo, into similarly humble beginnings.
Their style of play is different, as explained in detail by B/R's Sam Tighe in this article.
And Gabigol is largely thought of as a central forward despite the fact he can play anywhere across the front line.
At Santos, his record of 24 goals and 12 assists from 83 appearances seemed to give proof that he was ready to play at any level.
It was always expected that he would leave for Europe, but there is some concern that he left for Inter Milan too soon.
After one season in Italy, he is left to weigh up whether he is doing himself more harm than good by staying for another year.
What's Happened at Inter?
He arrived in Milan with huge expectation and heavy pressure, and Gabigol has struggled to prove a point to his doubters. In short, it has been a terrible year.
Of his nine appearances in Serie A last term, not one was from the start. In total, he made 10 appearances, with his only goal coming in February against Bologna.
There was huge relief when he found the net, but it has not been enough to lift the dark cloud that has followed him around Italy.
The situation has been difficult to come to terms with for a player who had scored more than 600 goals at youth level and has such belief in his goalscoring ability.
There have been a host of reasons suggested for his failure to make an impact so far; some think he is taking time to adjust to life in Italy, while others believe he remains too tactically naive. It could also be that his Brazilian style—he loves to try a trick or two—has been a problem.
But perhaps he made the wrong decision to join Inter. Maybe, after also being pursued by the likes of Juventus and Barcelona, he picked the wrong club.
He would not have been helped by the fact he was not included in their Europa League campaign for financial fair play reasons. It was a competition that could have given him the perfect lift.
Gabigol thought playing for Inter in Serie A would be a platform to help him mature. He thought he would make a goalscoring impact in Europe. He thought signing a five-year contract would signal the beginning of even greater things.
By the end of last season, his frustration was starting to show, and now he is having to have a serious rethink whether he can risk going through any more difficult times at the club.
A Move to the Premier League
West Ham United have held a long-standing interest in Gabigol, but seven other clubs from England now have an eye on him.
After investing so heavily in him last year, there is a feeling that Inter are more willing to agree to an initial loan move at this stage.
One major sticking point that all the clubs want to be cleared up is whether a work permit would prove problematic.
They have all touched base with legal teams to ask about the chances of success in a work-permit appeal, as Gabigol would not meet initial criteria.
It was an issue that has already been bothering West Ham, as reported by the Mirror.
However, it is hoped that due to his stature within the game at such a young age, a move would become possible. He would all but certainly be given the green light to play in England.
Making the Right Decision
It is possible Gabigol will leave Inter Milan before deadline day even though it is not a decision that will be taken lightly.
He is tied to the club until 2021 and has never wanted to walk away from the challenge unless it is clear that his first-team chances are going to be as severely limited as last term.
All indications right now are that that will be the case.
Publicly, Gabigol will declare that he wants to fight for his spot with Inter, but the reality is that he is going to struggle for game time, and I understand the club are indeed willing to send him out on a loan deal.
Sources have suggested that the Brazilian will now be willing to consider a move into English football.
In a summer market when such huge sums of money are being thrown around, Gabigol could yet prove to be one of the more clever signings of the window.
Additional reporting by Rob O'Connor.