Brazilian striker Gabriel Barbosa could be set for an early return to Inter Milan after reports suggesting that Benfica are prepared to terminate his loan spell in January.
The 21-year-old was loaned to Benfica in August following a peripheral 2016/17 season with the Nerazzurri – the Brazilian’s first in Europe – where he was used sporadically off the bench.
In fact, Gabriel Barbosa failed to start a single Serie A game last season, coming off the bench nine times to score once.
“I came to make history and never let my head drop. Let it be the beginning of a new history,” were the words from the former Santos man after netting for Inter Milan against Bologna in February.
Fast forward to late October 2017 and there’s not much history worth writing about; Barbosa appeared a further three times in Serie A following his maiden strike before being sent on loan to Benfica.
Difficulties in securing first-team football have followed the youngster to Portugal, where he has failed to start a single game in Benfica’s stop-start Primeira Liga campaign, completing just 13 minutes in a substitute appearance against Boavista.
Reports from Portuguese newspaper O Jogo claim that Benfica are prepared to cut Barbosa’s loan spell short in January, allowing him to return to Inter Milan.
Despite Inter’s obvious need for back-up to in-form striker Mauro Icardi, the Argentine’s irreplaceable status in the first-team will do little to help Gabriel Barbosa’s need for match time.
This has led to belief that Gabriel Barbosa’s best option is to return on loan to Brazil with Santos, where he would be offered the platform to rediscover goalscoring form that made him one of the hottest prospects in world football in 2016.