Gabigol open to European return 'when the time is right'
RIO DE JANEIRO, July 22 (Xinhua) -- Flamengo and Brazil international striker Gabriel Barbosa has vowed to be better prepared to play abroad should he choose to leave his homeland for a second time.
Barbosa, better known in Brazil as Gabigol, signed a five-year contract with Flamengo in January after Inter Milan reportedly agreed to a 17 million-euro (18 million U.S. dollars) transfer fee.
"The opportunity to go back to Europe will come when the time is right for me and for Flamengo," the Gazeta Esportiva news outlet quoted the 23-year-old as saying.
"Right now I feel that I'm much more prepared to face the professional and personal challenges of moving to another country," he added.
Gabigol spent 2019 on loan at Flamengo, scoring 43 goals in 59 matches as the Rio de Janeiro giants clinched their first Brazilian Serie A title since 2009 and just their second Copa Libertadores crown. He has already scored 11 times in 14 matches this year.
The forward's standout 2019 season came after an impressive 12-month loan at Santos, where he netted 27 times in 53 matches.
Gabigol was regarded as one of the most promising strikers in the world when he joined Inter Milan from Santos for 30 million U.S. dollars in 2016. But he managed just one goal in 10 matches for the Italian club before an equally meager six-month loan spell at Benfica.
He cited Portuguese manager Jorge Jesus as a major reason for his metamorphosis as a footballer and a person. Jesus left Flamengo last week after a trophy-laden 12-month spell at the club to rejoin his former side Benfica.
"Jorge Jesus helped me a lot in regards to my way of thinking and playing," said Gabigol, who has been capped five times for Brazil's national team. "With greater knowledge and maturity I was able to become a more complete player who makes decisions for the benefit of the team," he added. Enditem[ Editor: ZY ]