Crystal Palace were one of the first English clubs linked with a move for Brazilian striker Gabriel Barbosa when it became clear that the 22-year-old would be up for sale in January but as time goes by, it looks more and more likely that he’ll be heading elsewhere in the Premier League.
After leaving boyhood club Santos for Inter Milan after the two clubs agreed a fee in the region of €30 million back in 2016, the once prolific frontman began struggling badly for form. Thrown into a new league and culture, the São Paulo native failed to find his feet in Serie A and was loaned out to Benfica with surprising haste. Sadly for him, a stint in Portugal didn’t bring a change of fortune, leading Inter to agree another loan deal with Santos, where he remains to this day.
With two-and-a-half years still left to run on his contract at the San Siro, it’s becoming clear that Inter are keen to cut their losses and wave Barbosa goodbye for good; leaving Palace with an unenviable choice to make. Whilst the Brazilian is undoubtedly full of potential, serious question marks remain over his ability to adapt to the English game and with the Eagles currently embroiled in a relegation battle, a financial outlay of that size would represent a tremendous risk.
The other two clubs mentioned in the above report, namely Everton and West Ham aren’t in quite the same boat, with both feeling a far greater sense of security over their place in the top flight. Given that buffer between them and the drop zone, the decision over whether or not to take a relatively big-money punt on a player with Barbosa’s history is a far more straightforward call, based upon the manager’s belief in their ability to motivate them above anything else.
Were Palace to be offered the opportunity to take Barbosa until May before deciding whether or not to pull the trigger and sanction a permanent bid, I’m 99% sure they’d bite Inter Milan’s hand off but as things stand, the Italian giants appear to be in no mood to mess around.
If he comes into the Premier League and starts scoring goals for fun, it’ll be a bitter pill to swallow but the size of that “if” is almost certain to keep us from seriously rivalling Everton or West Ham for his signature during the January window.