Inter striker Gabriel Barbosa — who is on loan at Brazilian club Flamengo — wrote his name into South American football history on Saturday night. The 23 year old scored two quick fire late goals to give Flamengo a 2-1 win over Argentinian giants River Plate in the Copa Libertadores final.
The Brazilians were 1-0 down for the majority of the game after Rafael Borre gave River the lead after 14 minutes and seemed comfortable to go on and defend their Libertadores title from 2018.
It wasn’t until the 89th minute when Barbosa drew Flamengo level with a close range tap in and then in dramatic scenes scored the winner with a strike in injury time to send the Flamengo fans into dream land.
Barbosa ended the final in even more dramatic fashion by being sent off in the 95th minute as well as Exequiel Palacios of River Plate for a commotion between the two set of players before the final whistle.
The red card will not have bothered Barbosa and Flamengo as they saw the final seconds out to ensure victory for the Brazilian side in the prestigious competition for the first time since 1981. Flamengo will now qualify for the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup where they could face European champions Liverpool in the final in December.
The joy for Flamengo did not end there as the very next day they were crowned champions of the Brazilian top flight division after second place Palmeiras were defeated by Gremio. The 94th minute winning goal by Gremio on Sunday meant Flamengo can not be mathematically caught in the Brazilian Serie A table crowning them champions a day after lifting the Copa Libertadores.
Gabigol, who’s loan deal with Flamengo expires on the 31st of December has played a huge part in this historic season for the club, not only with his heroics in the Copa Libertadores but also with his 22 league goals to help Flamengo top the table.
Inter signed Gabigol in the summer of 2016 from Santos for a reported 30 million euros, however, his first and last season in Milan did not go according to plan and after a failed loan to Benfica, Gabigol found himself back in Brazil.
An initial loan deal with his first club Santos was successful which then prompted Flamengo to take Gabigol for this season, which of course has turned out a huge success and leaves many wondering what is next for Barbosa.
It was reported that Inter were willing to cut their losses on the striker and accept around 20 million euros for the permanent signing of Gabigol from Flamengo but it is very unlikely that is still the case after the phenomenal season he has had in Brazil.
There is also a case for Inter to keep the Brazilian and give him a chance in the team, Inter are lacking in squad depth this season and attacker Alexis Sanchez is still out of action with an Injury, meaning there may well be a gap in the team for Gabigol to give Serie A another shot.
It seems even Gabigol is aware of his valuation situation as he said after the tremendous win in Lima “Now I’m worth four times as much.” Inter may be tempted to cash in on the striker now with his rise of value and help invest in the squad.
His work in Brazil is not done yet, he may make even more history if he can help Flamengo lift the FIFA Club World Cup and complete a historic treble. Either way there is no doubt Antonio Conte will be watching Gabigol’s final games for Flamengo and either seeing £ signs or seeing his newest striker, time will tell.