In a world where the “next best thing” is always a hot commodity, one cannot describe how pleasant it is to browse the papers over a pint skimming through an article about the next exciting football prospect worth going down to the betting store over and putting down some Randela’s on them becoming top class internationals. Now very few of these protégés end up becoming the greats they were hyped up to be by the glowing reviews, as my bookmakers bank balance will attest to; but the journeys I have undergone tracking many of these young players has been worth every single penny scraped into a bet.
The hallmark of a side successful at producing players is the strength of their reputation whenever the next top young talent is seen as ready to make the grade at the elite level; in Brazil, football as a business contributes a decent chunk of the income generated by the country as a whole. Youth development has been integral in ensuring that this economic pull remains strong and grows at a healthy rate too and more European clubs have become aware of the financial plus side to procuring young Brazilian talent as they tend to produce players with immense potential and great ability; Brazilian footballers are found all across the football realm, such is the strength of football in Brazil and its chain reaction on the rest of the fraternity.
Santos FC are one of the most revered developers of youth talent in the football realm, many of the highly touted teens that have flowed out of that institution have gone on to showcase their talents on the grandest of stages and shown that Santos have been capable of producing top class talents like Diego, Robinho, Ganso Rafael Cabral, Felipe Anderson & Neymar in a relatively successive series that dates back to the legendary Pele and even before him. The next in line to take his brilliance onto the world stage is a young lad nicknamed Gabigol for his prolific net finding abilities; Gabriel Barbosa has been described by agent to the South American superstars Wagner Ribeiro as a player that possesses, “Ganso’s left-foot, Neymar’s technique and the speed of Lucas Moura,” With all those physical gifts and the positional play of that old-school off the shoulder no: 9 that the Phenomenal Ronaldo epitomised, Gabigol has shown why he has been earmarked as the next big talent out of Brazil with his enterprising play and ability t find the back of the net regularly affording him the added edge as he seeks to fulfil his potential and go down as one of the finest forwards in his generation and possibly one of the best to come out of a very successful Santos FC youth development structure that breeds top forwards.
Although we might not expect a Neymar-esque long running transfer saga around Gabriel, his future has made a few headlines already with many big European clubs eager to negotiate now, before his value rises exponentially, yet FC Barcelona have placed themselves in the driving seat so far after playing to secure the first-option on three Santos FC prospects in that highly disputed Neymar deal; Gabriel is one of those players that Barça have first dibs on, yet their transfer embargo will restrict hem from moving for the player in the summer and that could open up a lane for another club to come in and woo Santos FC with a sweet deal that makes them forget all about Barça and their clauses and instalments. Top class forwards are simply not a dime-a-dozen in the football kingdom, they are difference making individuals that can win games on their own and change the complexion of an entire season with some moments of brilliance and that makes them a rare commodity; the team that secures the services of Gabriel Barbosa could potentially be buying 100 goals in less than 5 years at a price that will seem laughable in hindsight and the entertainment value alone should pay back all the millions spent on securing the services of a FIFA Ballon d’Or winner in waiting.
The player, his representatives and the club have all stated that the lad currently harbours no intention to leave Brazil, that stance augurs well for the lads future as he can get another full season of competitive football under his belt as his continues his impressive development and ensures that he breaks into and solidifies his place in the Seleção before moving overseas and elevating his game even further. While many have been comparing him to his idol Neymar, for seemingly obvious reasons, Gabigol has set a benchmark of his own and seems intent to build his own lane while showing that he may come out of the same talent warehouse as his playalike brother, but he will be his own man and build his own legend just like his idol continues to do. The situation seems primed for a well managed and resourceful club to come in and meet the evaluation set by Santos FC in full right now and loan the lad back to the club for 12 months while he continues his development and prepares himself for the move by learning the culture and language of his new destination.
While my Sunday League side seems pretty resourceful next to some of their regular opponents, we unfortunately cannot afford to lure such a great talent over to don our Royal Blue strip and that is the only obstacle holding me back from setting off a bidding war for a player that I feel could dominate in his position in the manner Sergio Agüero has over last decade or so. Gabigol is a lad that all in the football realm need to watch out for as he continues his rise in the game, a new benchmark has been set for us to follow when it comes to developing young forwards and Gabriel Barbosa is just a glimpse at what the future of football will look like if we all play our positions like pros.
Full Name: Gabriel Barbosa Almeida
DoB: August 30th, 1996 (18)
PoB: São Bernando do Campo, São Paulo; Brazil
Height: 1, 76m
Position: Advanced Playmaker, Trequartista, Deep-Lying Forward, Advanced Forward, Complete Forward, Poacher
Preferred Foot: Either
Club: Santos FC
Jersey No: #10
Contract Expiry: September 30th, 2019
Market Value: € 8m
Development Academy: Santos FC
Career Club Record: 84 Games, 26 Goals, 5 Assists
Caps & Goals: N/A (Brazil u/15, u/17 & u/20 International)