UEFA Europa League contenders Internazionale have continued strengthening for the season ahead by snapping up highly-rated young Brazil forward Gabriel Barbosa.
Nicknamed ‘Gabigol’, the left-footed prospect – who celebrates his 20th birthday today! – is widely considered as the next big thing in Brazil. Some have even labelled him the ‘new Neymar’ after he won gold alongside the Barcelona ace in this summer’s Men’s Olympic Football Tournament.
Like Neymar, Gabriel’s pace and dribbling acumen make him an all-round talent up front, even if he prefers to play out wide on the right and cut inside, shooting with his left foot. Also like the 2014/15 UEFA Champions League winner, he was discovered by former Brazil midfielder Zito, while playing a futsal game aged just eight years old.
A product of the renowned Santos youth system that produced the likes of Pelé, Robinho and, of course, Neymar, Gabigol will now be looking to follow in their footsteps. Inter certainly hope he can, and a number of leading voices are backing the player to shine in Europe. UEFA.com hears what some legendary names are saying about the new Inter signing.
Ronaldo, former Inter and Brazil striker
I have been following the new young Brazilian talents for a while now. Gabigol is certainly a great player and he is more than ready to play for a big club in Europe.
Frank de Boer, Inter coach
Clubs like Ajax or Inter always look for creative, skilled players, so I think that he is on every top club’s shortlist. He is certainly a very interesting player.
Leonardo, former Brazil midfielder and Inter coach
People who have followed him closely know his great potential. He can play alongside [Mauro] Icardi in attack. Great players can always play together, but he will have to adapt to European football.
He did not come out of nothing; he grew up slowly to finally reach the top level and now he will have to make another big jump. He likes to move around in attack and touch the ball often. I think a Dutch coach like De Boer can teach him a lot tactically and help him find the right position on the pitch.
— F.C. Internazionale (@Inter) August 30, 2016
Juninho, former Brazil international
He’s a left-footed player who runs well with the ball and is good at getting into the box. He must improve tactically: sometimes he holds on to the ball for too long when he should speed up play.
He must develop, but he has the talent to play for top teams. Much will depend on the effort and intelligence he shows when he comes to Europe. Is Gabigol the new Neymar? I wouldn’t say so, because in Brazil there aren’t any players like Neymar who can combine speed, changes of direction, talent and the ability to score goals. Neymar is unique.