Arsene Wenger turned his attention upon a Brazilian prodigy by the name of Gabigol the moment Jamie Vardy snubbed Arsenal, and it could be the best decision he has made during his time at the club.
Fans were outraged with Vardy’s decision and disappointed that Wenger had resorted to chasing the signature of another relatively unknown young player.
Brazil is known for churning up a host of talented young players, but many fail to truly live up to their overhyped potential.
With Gabriel ‘Gabigol’ Barbosa however, he is the needle in the haystack, an individual with extraordinary talent
For the Santos forward could have a rise as meteoric as former Santos star Neymar, hence the comparisons.
So, why should Arsenal fans be excited about their potential new signing? We at Pundit Arena HQ document his rise and what makes him so special.
Labelled as ‘the new Neymar’, the 19-year-old striker, more commonly known as Gabigol, joined Santos’s academy at the age of eight in 2004. Eight years later, Barbosa signed his first professional contract with the historic Brazilian side- with a buyout clause set at €50m.
He made his debut with the team at the age of 16, and the experience he shows on the ball resembles a player of an age far greater.
His rise has become more prominent in recent years, and the prolific marksman is already a full Brazilian international with four caps to his name.
Santos like to deploy Gabigol on the wings from time to time to accomodate other striking options or to switch formations, but his true position is as an out and out striker, exactly the type of player that Arsenal fans crave and what Arsene Wenger needs.
Barbosa is ambidextrous and quite athletic, although not quite a force in the air like Olivier Giroud, standing at a mere 5ft 7in.
The Brazilian is incredibly aware positionally considering his age, and his ice cool in front of goal. Barbosa’s low centre of gravity makes it difficult for defenders to shrug him off the ball, and that coupled with his strength is an enormous benefit to Santos.
The fans of Santos clearly adore their star man for not only his goalscoring feats but also his drive and determination, important ingredients in the making of a world-class star. Although gifted like Neymar in terms of flair, his overall skill set has seen comparisons drawn between him and Luis Suarez.
In eight seasons in the youth leagues, Gabigol scored over 600 goals. This feat is unrivalled, even by the likes of Ronaldinho, Robinho or Neymar.
The 19-year-old also clearly has a steady head, refusing to crumble under the intense pressure of an expectant Brazilian nation to see an heir to Pele and Neymar.
Leading the line of such a prestigious team as Santos whilst at the same time hearing whispers of the likes of Barcelona, Arsenal and Real Madrid’s interest would turn the head of many an experienced player, yet Gabigol has only increased the hype surrounding him by doing what he does best for his team.
With Barbosa under the contract at Santos until 2019, the club are under little pressure to sell under the asking price.
Arsenal’s only stumbling block is the result of the EU Referendum, which has already had a significant impact on the value of the pound.
However, there is a slight chance that Britain may not leave the EU anyway, and Arsenal should have the necessary funds to complete Gabigol’s capture regardless.
Unfortunately for Arsenal fans, Gabigol is set to play for Brazil alongside Neymar at the Olympics in August, and with no deal immediately imminent between the Gunners and Santos, a move could be postponed until after the games have drawn to a close in Rio.
Barbosa is very aware of the importance of the Olympics to his nation following recent sporting disappointments, with quotes from ESPN.
“It’s a very important event for Brazilians, especially considering the last World Cup,” Gabigol says. “Brazil has never won the Olympic football gold. It has never hosted the Olympics. This is a special edition. For me it would be a dream.”
Speaking in February this year, it’s evident that Barbosa is in no frantic rush to leave Brazil in another stumbling block in Arsenal’s move.
“I really don’t think I should be worried about when I will move to Europe,” he says. “Right now I’m more concerned about being ready. I’m always training hard.”
“If it turns out to be in southern Europe [that he will move to] that would be great, as hopefully it would be easier to adjust there both culturally and in soccer.”
It may yet be a long time before any club signs Gabigol, but know this, Gunners fans: You don’t want Arsenal to miss out on this one.