RIO DE JANEIRO – Forward Gabriel Barbosa said his move to Rio de Janeiro side Flamengo is a dream come true, although he also is well aware of the expectations surrounding players at Brazil’s most popular club.
“I want to thank everyone for being at a great club. Everyone who helped make this dream a reality. I’m very happy and grateful,” the player nicknamed “Gabigol” said upon being presented to the fans and the media on Friday.
The 22-year-old has arrived in Rio on a loan deal from Italian club Inter Milan, who own his federative rights.
He was loaned out in 2018 to Santos, where he enjoyed a breakout season and led Brazil’s first division in goals scored with 18.
Despite gaining experience at the club that was once home to greats such as Pele, Neymar Jr. and Robinho, Barbosa said he had always talked about wanting to play at Flamengo and never imagined the chance would come so soon in his career.
Gabigol acknowledged that Flamengo’s players must cope with high expectations but added that this is a “healthy pressure” shared by the entire roster.
“The pressure isn’t just on me. It’s on the squad. It’s up to the entire team to score goals, not just Gabriel,” he said.
The 2019 Brazilian-league season will start in late April; before then, Flamengo will play group stage matches in Copa Libertadores, South American soccer’s premier club competition.