It may seem absurd, but Gabriel Barbosa, Gabigol, leading scorer of the Brazilian Championship, with 22 goals in 26 matches, was once called Gabi-no-goal.
At least that's what the Dutchman reported Frank de Boer, Gabigol's first coach at Inter Milan, from August 2016 to November of the same year.
After three very good seasons for Santos, crowned with the unprecedented Olympic gold for Brazilian soccer At Rio-2016, Gabigol was on its way to Europe, and the expectation of its immediate success was broad.
However, that was not the case.
"They called him Gabigol, but to us he was Gabi-no-goal," said a surprised De Boer, now head coach of Atlanta United, who was interviewed by Fox Sports following the Libertadores decision on Saturday. .
In Lima (Peru), at the interval of three minutes, at the end of the second half, Gabigol's star shone, and he scored the two goals that ensured Flamengo a 2-1 win over River Plate.
The 23-year-old striker finished the competition as top scorer with nine goals.
Gabigol celebrates a la Gabigol goal, his second against River Plate in the Libertadores final, which gave Flamengo the title at the Monumental de Lima stadium (Guadalupe Pardo – 23.nov.2019 / Reuters)
Only in 2019, with the season yet to end – Flamengo have three games to play in the Brazilian, which is already champion, and the Club World Cup to play -, Gabigol accumulates 40 goals in 54 matches, average of 0.74.
Santos's performance improved in 2018, when they netted 27 times in 53 games (average 0.51, or one goal every two games).
In Europe, in a year at Inter, which bought it for about € 25 million (R $ 117 million at the current exchange rate), and in five months at Benfica, on a loan pass, Gabigol scored a scant three goals – two for the team. Italian and one for Portuguese.
De Boer said in the interview about the impression left by Gabigol at the beginning of his stay in Milan: “He arrived with two social media editors and a bodyguard, but he was not yielding anything. The technician who arrived after me (Stefano Pioli) also did not put him to play ”.
Gabigol celebrates the only goal he scored with Inter Milan's shirt in an official match for the Italian team against Bologna in Serie A (Filippo Monteforte – Feb. 19, 2017 / AFP)
This is perhaps the main reason for Gabigol's goal drought. Lack of time on the pitch. For in Benfica Rui Vitória neither gave him space.
At Inter, he was on the field, excluding preseason games, only 11 times, and started playing a single, a friendly.
The total minutes in official games over 12 months? Whimsy 183, or just over two 90-minute matches.
In Benfica, similar situation. Five appearances, starting only twice and not playing a whole game. In all, 236 minutes on the field and a goal.
In all this time, Gabigol must have been so sore buttocks that they have warmed the reserve bench… In the 2016/2017 Italian Championship, began 32 matches in it, entering nine.
For the Champions League, as in the match against Basel in Lisbon, Gabigol played twice for Benfica, always starting in the reserve and entering the second half of the second half (Rafael Marchante – 5.de.20.20 / Reuters)
And why couldn't Gabigol play?
With regard to De Boer, it is clear that from the outset created aversion to the Brazilian. But what about the others, Pioli and Vitória?
Was Gabigol a training disaster? Possibly not. Have there been cases of indiscipline? No serious has come to the notice of the media.
What there was was tremendous competition.
A newcomer to Europe, Gabigol had to contend with Italian Icardi (now at Paris Saint-Germain), Inter captain, super-starter and idol, and Argentine Palacio, who has also scored in the club since 2012.
At Benfica, the outlook has not improved. It even got worse.
The Lisbon team had, in the group for the 2017/2018 season, the Brazilian Jonas, the Swiss Seferovic and the Mexican Jiménez (currently featured in England). All ahead of Gabigol on the coach's preference list.
Being cast, having a following, you see, Gabigol surrenders. Score goals. It's Gabigol.
Without opportunities, neither he nor anyone can stand out. Scoring goals?
Thus it is natural, and understandable, to have Gabigol to have been in the European pass Gabi-no-goal.
In time 1: A curiosity. In those 17 months of Europe, as written, Gabigol scored three goals. They all resulted in a 1-0 win. For Inter, a mid-season friendly against Lugano (Switzerland) in October 2016 and an Italian match against Bologna in February 2017. For Benfica Portuguese Cup against Olhanense, October 2017.
In time 2: Gabigol is an Inter player, with a contract until mid-2022. If there is no agreement to extend his loan with Flamengo, later this year he will have to return to Italy and negotiate his future with the Milanese leaders.