19 Striker Santos Brazil
No pressure, Gabigol, but you need to be brilliant, ‘kay? Brazilian next-big-things can go either way but for this current generation the stakes have never been higher. Neymar is outstanding and explosive, but also irreplaceable and fragile. Brazil need depth just as much as they need swagger, and Gabriel could be a huge boon for both.
2015 has been…
…perhaps the last year he’ll continue to go under the global radar.
He’s not reached “Gol do Ney!” levels of expectation but there is certainly anticipation. Inevitably the comparisons are there with Brazil’s current megastar, requisite first option deal taken by Barcelona accordingly, but globally Barbosa’s yet to feel the weight that accompanied Neymar’s last two seasons in Brazil where his every touch was Vined, YouTubed and poured over.
2015 has been good on the whole, his last year before the explosion comes. For our money he’s a far more “pure” striker than Neymar, scoring both the extravagant and the routine in equal measure. This very author watched one of Brazil’s big hopes and commented he was worried there may not be much beyond Lucas Moura | Goals, Skills, Assists | Sao Paulo | 2011/12 and ultimately, despite flashes, there hasn’t been. Barbosa looks to have a lot more to his game, a desire to work and a refreshing willingness to embrace both the glitter and the grit. Got a chance this one, a decent chance.
The big move is coming, maybe not this summer, but it’s coming. As Brazilian football expert Rupert Fryer told us “he is certainly progressing and his decision to reject a move to Turkey suggests he has bigger ambitions than simply growing his bank balance.” Barca have first refusal, Arsenal are also uncharacteristically open in their admiration. If those options aren’t taken scouts from most of Europe’s elite are watching keenly.
Internationally he also has a chance to tie down a longer-term place, Rupert also noting “While Gabigol needs to get physically stronger and improve back-to-goal before being in line to cement the role, he does possess many of the attributes required to fulfill the dynamic false no.9 position that Dunga has implemented since his return as national team coach.” He’s also working on his all round game, Fryer continuing, “he has proved the perfect foil to the ageing Ricardo Oliveira who is the Brasileirao's top scorer.”
Further evidence of this growth has come in the form of a couple of great assists, most notably against Figueirense with a glorious Asamoah-esque outside of the boot cross, showing a level of unselfishness many in his position never achieve. He had a slightly disappointing showing in the U20 South American Championship that pushed him back from the senior squad’s thinking but he’s still very much the next in line. The Neymar comparison is cruel but play as he does and it’s inevitable, here’s hoping he gets somewhere near the hype.
B Good growth, rising hopes, interesting next twelve months ahead
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