Sunday, March 26, 2023

Chelsea To Rival Barcelona For The Next Neymar; Do They Need Him At This Point?

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Sourav Bhakat
An ardent sports lover who loves to sleep, eat and watch Manchester City play. In that order.

Chelsea have been proactive this summer after announcing Antonio Conte as the manager who would take over from Guus Hiddink. After leading the unfancied Italian team to the quarter-finals of the Euros, he has arrived with heightened expectations.

The Stamford Bridge outfit have already bolstered their front-line having signed Michy Batshuayi from Marseille for a fee believed to be in the region of £33m. After the capture of the young striker, Chelsea have moved quickly to snap up last season’s midfield star N’Golo Kante from Leicester in a deal believed to cost around £30m. Chelsea already look like a scary prospect with the arrival of these players and the expected return to form of Chelsea’s megastars. With no Champions League or Europa League ties to contend with, Chelsea will be the team to watch out for in the league and will turn up fresh and raring to go in every match.

With the uncertainty surrounding Diego Costa’s future, Chelsea have been reportedly scouring the market for alternative striking options. Although the latest name to have cropped up on their radar is Romelu Lukaku, Chelsea have been strongly linked with Santos ace, Gabriel Barbosa throughout the summer.

Born in São Bernardo do Campo, São Paulo, Gabriel joined Santos FC’s youth setup in 2004, aged 8. On 25 September 2012, he signed a professional contract and made his first team debut on 17 January of the following year, in a friendly match against Grêmio Barueri.

Santos v Flamengo - Brasileirao Series A 2015

He has since come a long way and the winger who can play all across the frontline is a hot prospect in world football right now. Affectionately called as Gabigol, the 19-year old attacker has caught the eye of Serie A champions Juventus who have enquired about the availability of the young winger. Chelsea, however, already have a £25m offer on the table in a bid to tempt the teenager to London.

But taking advantage of Chelsea’s hesitation in going in determinedly, Barcelona have come into the frame now. After repeated failures in all their attempts to sign a proper back-up for the irrepressible MSN, Barca have seemingly zeroed in on the player dubbed the ‘Next Neymar’ for his club and similar playing style. The La Liga giants have admitted the difficulty this season in signing a striker, as a bench role is guaranteed for the player who will be coming in. They have already lost Kevin Gamerio to Atletico Madrid and have also been unsuccessful in signing Vietto. Barbosa will benefit greatly under the influence of players like Neymar, Suarez and Messi and the appeal of working with these South Americans who are all modern greats in their own right will have a big factor to play if Barcelona bid for the youngster.

Santos are trying to persuade Barbosa to extend his contract for another two years from 2019 to 2021. But the striker is said to be interested in a move to a bigger club despite his concerns of adapting to a new league and doubts over regular playing time. He seems like a prospect, but you could argue that Chelsea need more than just upcoming stars and should target established stars to challenge for honours immediately under Conte.

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