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Friday November 29 2019
Gabigol or Gabigone?

Gabriel Barbosa remains an Inter player as his Flamengo loan comes to an end, but Football Italia’s Chief Correspondent Richard Hall believes his fate is already sealed...

Gabriel Barbosa has always believed in himself. After scoring his first Inter goal, he claimed he had come to Milan to make history. In a way he did, it just wasn’t with Inter. Instead, after loan spells at Benfica (also a disaster) and Santos, he found himself winning the Copa Libertadores with Flamengo.

Now, with his loan running out on December 31, the question will be asked - can he return to Inter and make a name for himself or will he be sold? If so, where to?

For the Nerazzurri, they potentially have a win-win on their hands. Firstly, Gabigol’s form in the Copa Libertadores has put him back on the map. Liverpool, Arsenal, West Ham United and Crystal Palace have all been linked this week, along with multiple other European clubs. The Brazilian’s form could certainly help Inter recoup the €29.5m they paid for him back in 2016, and that in itself would be a victory.

On the other hand, why would Inter not want to hold onto the bright young thing who has been shining so brightly? Surely he would benefit the Beneamata, especially as Alexis Sanchez is still on the treatment table, leaving little cover for Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku. Yet general manager Beppe Marotta begs to differ.

“We see Gabigol in the same way that we see Lautaro, a player who is growing year by year,” Marotta recently remarked. “His loan ends in December, after which we will carefully evaluate what to do with him. It’s unlikely he will be part of our project, but he has several proposals.”

How did it come to this? How did the 23-year-old make such a bad impression in such a short space of time, and how can winning South America’s biggest club competition not redeem him of his sins? In 2016, Gabriel was viewed - along with Gabriel Jesus - as the biggest talent to come out of Brazil since Neymar. Inter won his signature and yet he played only 89 minutes over nine games. He scored once and did have a few moments where he got the fans on their feet, but still he was cast aside. 

In his defence, his 16-17 campaign was marred by upheaval off the field as Inter not only changed owners but also coaches no less than four times. However, rumours also started to emerge that he wasn’t fit, lacked professionalism and couldn’t settle in Italy.

Eventually he was loaned to Benfica, where he played only once, before moving back to Brazil. In the glimpses we have seen of the South American, he’s played like a relic from yesteryear, showing no fear, always wanting the ball and entertaining crowds. Like former Napoli hitman Careca or even Paris Saint-Germain icon Rai, you simply don’t know what he’ll do next.

Herein lies the problem. Antonio Conte is the last coach who wants a player he can’t control. There is no room for an ill-disciplined, ball-juggling crowd pleaser in this regime and there is even less time for a disruptive presence in the dressing room. From the first time Conte would have heard the stories about his general lack of application, he would have ordered every security guard to send him away. 

There is no denying that Gabriel Barbosa has talent, neither is there any denying that he could be an asset for a top side - just not in Milan. Inter and Marotta are doing what they have done best so far, showing no mercy. This is a player who simply doesn’t fit the mould, so the club will want to recoup as much money for him as they can, ship him out and reinvest. The Nerazzurri probably accept he may become a superstar, but it won’t be at Inter. Gabigol will simply be Gabigone.

Have your say...
Richard as usual only portrait negative side of players from certain clubs. You forgot to mention his form this season with Flamengo. 31 goals in 38 games for Flamengo. You know when was the last time Flamengo got libertadores? 38 years ago. and this guy scored 2 goals that made Flamengo won it.

He maybe not fit with Conte, but surely his performance would surely make his price sky rocketed. Remember he was bought by Inter pre-neymar
on the 4th December, 2019 at 7:21am
This situation is perfect for Milan to swoop in. We need a striker with flair and ability to control the ball. Then he and Paqueta can be let loose on defenses. Time for the next in the long line of Inter rejects to Milan made gods! Baresi, Seedorf, Pirlo...
on the 2nd December, 2019 at 7:56pm
He wasn't given more playing time because he didn't put much effort in training.
When you have a lazy, indisciplined player who ignores tactical sessions (which are regarded with extra importance in Italy), you can't just allow him to play much, no matter how talented he is, because it will send a very bad message to the rest of the squad.
on the 30th November, 2019 at 12:28pm
As an Inter fan I agree absolutely with Ben. The guy did not get a chance. Hey 89 minutes! One goal. Thats goal to minutes ratio of Lukako and Lautaro!
But, obviously the problem is not his football talent and ability, but his head and attitude.
on the 30th November, 2019 at 11:50am
As an Inter fan, I think I speak for a lot of us when I say we wanted to see more of him. Sadly, he wasn't really given a chance. You can't expect a player to play so little and produce absolute magic in the few minutes he is allowed at the end of a game. For 30 mil, he should have been given at least a start in the cup, but I think the poor results at the time forced coaches to pick the best possible side every game and none of them were prepared to take a chance and see what he could do. Shame
on the 30th November, 2019 at 12:07am
"neither is there any denying that he could be an asset for a top side"

How have you come to this conclusion? He completely failed at Inter and Benfica. He received little playing time under 3 different coaches (2 at Inter, 1 at Benfica?).

That is seriously alarming. I mean he must have been absolutely atrocious in training, whether that be listening to instructions or whatever it was. The exact details on that remain a mystery. Whatever it was, he was consistent in it.
on the 29th November, 2019 at 11:34pm
God thing Richard Hall isn't running any transfer lists for clubs. Gabigol really? Lautaro literally just hit world class form and you write this junk?
on the 29th November, 2019 at 9:47pm
You mean "gabi-one-gol" - he is absolute junk - if he's the leading goal scorer in Brazil then it's no wonder why Brazil hasn't won a world cup since 2002! what an absolute waste of 29.5 mill, if Marco Branca made that deal he would have been crucified but since Inter's favorite pet Ausilio made it he gets to remain employed
on the 29th November, 2019 at 6:10pm

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