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Why hasn’t it worked for Gabigol at Inter?

Gabriel Barbosa’s move to Inter Milan has not worked out in the way that the promising 20 year old attacker would have hoped. He has appeared a total of 10 times for I Nerazzurri, scoring only once. On Sunday, he was publicly chastised http://www.sambafoot.com/en/news/87699_gabigol_apologises_for_inter_bench_snub.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter by his manager for leaving the substitute’s bench and heading for the dressing room, after yet another match spent as an unused substitute.

So why has the move not worked out for Gabigol, long considered one of Brazil’s premier attacking talents? Well, in truth, it never looked like a good move for the ex-Santos man. Rumours have begun to circulate of a loan move back to Santos. Here are some of the reasons that Serie A has yet to work out for young Gabigol.


Under pressure from agents and clubs that see the reais signs, plenty of young Brazilians move to Europe a little too soon. Gabriel should probably have stayed at Santos for one more year and played in their Copa Libertadores campaign.

Neymar waited until he was 21 before making the jump to Barcelona. That was probably a year too late for his abilities, but Gabigol would have benefitted from one more year of regular football at Santos alongside a fluid attacking unit, featuring Lucas Lima and Ricardo Oliveira.

The cultural acclimatisation is steep for young Brazilians that move to Europe and it is a step that requires maturity. Gabigol had been used to being considered the boy wonder at Santos, but he has received no such indulgence at Inter and has fallen foul of a few coaches in his year there.


Inter have gone through three coaches this year, so it has hardly provided a secure environment for a 20 year old moving to Europe. Each of Inter’s bosses have been under severe pressure and have therefore been reluctant to give Gabigol a chance to impress.

He has been criticised for his attitude on a few occasions by coaches, but frankly, Inter is a basket case of a club at the moment amidst ownership and managerial upheaval.  I Nerazzurri coaches have had a little too much going on to be able to give Gabigol the sort of nurturing he requires.


20 year olds need to be able to play regular football to progress and Gabigol has not been able to get minutes at Inter, which leads to a vicious cycle of stagnation and then further isolation from the first team.

The Serie A side have Icardi, Palacio, Eder and Bianiany in the forward positions, which has seen Gabigol’s opportunities limited. As a result, he has found himself frozen out of the team, which has halted his development.


Last July, Santos prematurely announced a contract extension for the left footed forward. It’s not uncommon for owners of Brazilian clubs to speak too soon, in their never ending thirst for bravado and hubris.

Barbosa went to the summer Olympics with Brazil and played a crucial part in his country winning a gold medal. As a result, the move to Inter did not go through until just before the transfer deadline in late August.

Up until that point, his future was unresolved. Having played a physically and emotionally demanding Olympic campaign on home soil, he was soon packing his bags and leaving for Italy, which can’t have helped his adaption.

First of all, he needed a few weeks off after his exertions in Rio, which meant he started the season playing catch up in terms of his fitness. Crucially, he did not have much time to prepare himself psychologically for the move to Europe either.

Having just won an Olympic gold medal, it is entirely possible that both his agent and Santos saw a chance to cash in on a transfer when his stock was high. Likewise, Inter might have decided to simply move for him before a competitor did with Brazil’s success still resonating.


Gabriel has a very deliberate style of play and though he is physically well built, it was always going to take him some time to adapt to football in Europe. His transfer to Inter is not yet a total failure of course.

The conditions were simply never present for him to flourish. His progress has cryogenically frozen in a vicious cycle of a lack of opportunities, which has stunted his development, which has further limited his opportunities. By all accounts, he has struggled to cope with this environment and therefore not been able to offer his best.

Brazilian football is littered with stories of young talents that fail to achieve their potential in Europe. Gabigol is still only 20, so his story is still very much at its epilogue. He should probably take a step backwards to go forwards again.

If a move back to Santos could be arranged, on loan or otherwise, he would be well advised to take it and try to start again. Then in a year or two, he will be in a better position to make a move to a more suitable European club. 


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