The Brazilian striker Gabriel Barbosa banished any lingering memories of an unsuccessful time in Europe when he netted twice in the dying minutes of the Copa Libertadores final to win Flamengo their second ever continental title two months ago.
Since then, the 23-year-old has returned from his loan spell in Brazil to his parent club, Inter and while the Nerazzurri don’t look keen to make use of his talents, the rest of Europe is fighting it out for his signature.
After a wonderful season which saw him score 34 goals in all competitions, living up to his nickname ‘Gabigol’, a host of English clubs are lining up to sign the Brazilian, so let’s dive in and assess some of his options for a January switch.
Fellow Brazilian striker Joelinton scored his second ever goal for Newcastle in a third-round FA Cup replay with Rochdale last week, so it’s fair to say that there is a need for firepower on Tyneside.
What most certainly is up for debate (a short debate) is whether Gabriel Barbosa will be convinced by Steve Bruce to join the project he and Mike Ashley are developing in the north east.
While Newcastle may be in the market for a striker, it’s highly unlikely one of Barbosa’s profile is going to be lured to St. James’ Park, coupled with the fact that Mike Ashley would sooner sell regular-sized mugs at Sports Direct before he would even entertained the idea of paying a fraction of the wages the Brazilian would demand.
Likelihood Rating: 1/10
West Ham love a striker. Simple as that. Much has been made about the horrendous output delivered by the forwards brought in under David Gold and David Sullivan, but that hasn’t stopped them being linked with the Brazilian.
Unfortunately for the Hammers, Barbosa has made it clear that he only wants to join a ‘big name’. While some East Londoners will argue that West Ham is a storied club with an illustrious history (and probably mention something about 1966) it doesn’t look likely that the Brazilian will be calling that particular area of the capital home any time soon.
Likelihood Rating: 2/10
This link does have some legs to it. Tottenham are in the market for a striker due to the severity of Harry Kane’s injury and there is the appeal of Champions League football, a competition Barbosa only has two appearances in, both of which came during his loan spell with Benfica.
When Kane does inevitably return ahead of schedule, there is the possibility of the two forming an impressive partnership, with the England captain dropping deeper more and more in recent seasons.
However, with the likes of Son Heung-min, Lucas Moura and Dele Alli all fighting for places in that front line, the 23-year-old Barbosa is hardly going to be a guaranteed starter. And with his pick of clubs, it seems unlikely he’d plump for one where game-time was not assured.
Likelihood Rating: 5/10
With Chelsea’s transfer ban lifted, they are now able to dip into the market and once again splash the cash.
Frank Lampard revealed back in December that Chelsea would be looking for an Eden Hazard replacement this window, and while Barbosa differs from the Belgian in a number of ways, his arrival would certainly bolster an attack their manager has judged to need strengthening.
With several clubs after the signature of Chelsea’s Olivier Giroud, it’s understood that the Frenchman’s departure will only be granted if a replacement is found, and Gabriel may be a smart acquisition to take the role of the man ten years his senior.
However, the doubts surrounding his playing time rear their head once more as Tammy Abraham has had a career-best top flight season so far, currently sitting sixth in the Premier League’s top scorer charts, ahead of the likes of Raheem Sterling, Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah.
Likelihood Rating: 6/10
Almost every player to have ever had a two-minute YouTube clip of their ‘skills’ set to Evanescence had certainly been linked to Manchester United. But given the severity of Marcus Rashford’s injury, it seems that the link with Barbosa may have some substance to it.
With the England forward out for two to three months recovering from a stress fracture to his back, United are in desperate need of fire power. Reports suggest a permanent deal is unlikely, but Inter are willing to accept a loan offer if an obligation to buy is included.
Even when Rashford does return, it seems that his best position is coming off the left so Gabriel can still operate through the middle. Also, the Brazilian has shown an ability to fill a role on the right flank which means a front-three of Rashford, Anthony Martial and Barbosa is a decent possibility, much like this transfer.
Likelihood Rating: 7/10
90min can exclusively reveal that Brazilian giants Flamengo are working hard to finalise a deal for the forward who enjoyed such a fruitful loan spell with the club last year.
With Inter happy to sell the front man for €25m, Flamengo are aiming to secure a permanent move for Barbosa before any of the Premier League sides detailed above snatch him up.
This is undoubtedly the most likely move for Gabriel as he enjoyed the best season of his career with Flamengo last year and at only 23 years of age, a future move to Europe is by no means out of the question.
Flamengo will also be desperate to secure the signature of the man who brought them both domestic and continental glory less than two months ago.
Likelihood Rating: 9/10