How many strikers playing outside of Europe can you name that are currently better than Flamengo and Brazil international Gabriel Barbosa? I’m pretty sure the fingers of just one of your hands—if any at all—would suffice.
Gabigol is a marvelous player, and Newcastle is a marvelous club. So it makes sense to link both man and institution, right? That’s been the case for a long time now, as the Magpies reportedly showed interest in Barbosa in the January transfer window only to re-up their efforts and explore a potential deal-to-be-completed this summer.
Back in the winter, with Newcastle facing the very real threat of relegation, the rumors were barely believable when it came to the possibility of the Toon landing a player of Barbosa’s ilk. Now, with Newcastle entrenched in the Premier League for the short, mid, and long-term future of the club, things have changed completely and the club has completed a 180-degree turn. The Magpies have completed three signings this summer to bolster the squad ahead of the next season but all of those transactions involved defensive players (considering goalkeeper Nick Pope one of those too).
There is still transfer budged for the must-address need of another striker and most probably a (right) winger on top of that. Enter Gabigol.
Barbosa has already played on European soil after getting signed by Italian side Inter Milan back in the summer of 2016 from Santos. Of course, still a teenager back then, Gabigol succumbed to the pressure and the hype built around him as the next great thing to come out of Brazil. Even then, though, and accounting for all seasons he spent in Europe—he got loaned to Portuguese side Benfica, too—Barbosa was good enough to leave the continent having bagged a couple of goals in 15 games played, including two Champions League matches.
Gabigol has spent much more time in his native country of Brazil, where he’s shown talents that are clearly above the average level of competition he faces over there weekly. He scored 43 goals and assisted on 13 while playing for Santos before turning 20 and then, after returning to play for Flamengo—his current club—he’s played 158 games and going with 103 goals and 28 assists to his name. That’s correct, Gabigol averages a goal every 126 minutes with Flamengo for a rate of two goals every three games.
Now 25 years old, Gabriel Barbosa is solidly established as a top-tier talent and just entering his prime. A move to Europe these days would be much more reasonable for him, and while the expectations will still be high there is a very realistic outcome awaiting him in the old continent in which his production would be much better than that from his first stint in Europe. It’s not that Gabigol would arrive lacking accolades, either. He’s a two-time Brasileirao’s top-goalscorer, two-time Copa Libertadores top-goalscorer too, has won two Supercopa do Brasil, one Copa Libertadores, one Recopa Sudamericana, two Brasileirao titles, and also was named the best player of last Copa Libertadores. Not to mention his national side gold Olympic medal and runner-up place in the 2021 Copa America.
Signing Barbosa would be the coup of Newcastle’s transfers policies and would surely help the club economically given all of the eyes he’d bring to St James Park and the Magpies' endeavors around England this upcoming season. Keep in mind that fellow Brazilian Bruno Guimaraes is already a sensation in Tyneside while fellow countryman Joelinton was reborn under the guidance of Eddie Howe, and you’ll start to see why bringing Gabigol is far from a crazy or made-up possibility. The 2022 Brasileirao will finish on November 22nd, so if this deal was to happen there is a great chance it’d do so by the end of August or on the deadline day come September, giving Flamengo the largest room to exploit Gabigol as much as possible in their run to beating title defender Atletico Mineiro and regaining the no. 1 position and thus lifting the trophy when all is said and done. Flamengo recently confirmed the addition of Chilean forward Arturo Vidal in a move that could easily preclude the selling of Gabriel Barbosa to Newcastle if the club is determined to pay his quoted fee—seemingly around €30 million, a figure the Magpies’ board could clearly afford these days.
Here’s hoping we get fresh news about this in the next few days while the team gets ready for the Premier League kickoff in a month by getting into the summer training camps and playing a few scheduled friendlies through the next few weeks.