Inter Milan pulled off quite a coup this summer when they spent €29 million on the signing of Gabriel Barbosa or ‘Gabigol’ from Santos, beating off competition from the likes of Manchester United and Leicester City to bring the young Brazilian to the San Siro.
However, things have not worked out for the 20-year-old, who has often been dubbed ‘the new Neymar.’ Gabriel has made just three Serie A appearances, all from the bench, giving him a total of just 21 minutes of league action for his new club.
Now, Inter manager Stefano Pioli has said that Gabigol can leave the club, initially on loan, which has put several clubs including Liverpool (as reported by the Mirror) on high alert going into the January transfer window.
At first viewing, a move for the 20-year-old makes little sense for the Reds. Gabriel has struggled significantly at Inter and any permanent move would undoubtedly be an expensive one, as Inter will not want to lose much of their £25 million investment. After all, signing the Brazilian was a long term project for the Italians.
A loan move also wouldn’t make a great deal of sense. The reason Gabriel has failed to make much of an impact in Italy is partially his age, and partially because he is struggling to adapt to a new life and new team having just move from Santos, his hometown club where he spent over a decade of his life. A short term deal would not allow the youngster any time to settle down and would significantly limit his impact for the club.
But that is not to say that signing Gabriel should be ruled out. For a start, Liverpool will lose Sadio Mane to Africa Cup of Nations duty in January, and with a talented Senegal squad alongside him, he could be gone for a few weeks. Gabriel could prove to be a very good replacement for the former-Southampton forward.
The Brazilian is technically very talented, possessing excellent skills on the ball, in finishing and also has a fair few tricks up his sleeve. Furthermore, he is a handy mixture of well built and very quick and can play across the front line.
It would be a significant risk signing the youngster as a replacement for Mane in January, but any deal would carry hallmarks of a similar move they made for another young Brazilian struggling at Inter a few seasons ago. Philippe Coutinho hasn’t turned out too badly.
Liverpool do need another attacking option as back up, and Gabriel certainly fits into their current ethic. He is fast, versatile and a technically sound player, who would undoubtedly gel well with Coutinho and Firmino given time to bed in. He may have the immediate impact required to cover the sale of Mane, but in the long term he could be a very tidy investment.
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