Jose Mourinho was not happy. His dog was injured and now he had to hunt with a cat. And you could only go so far with a hunting cat. The Portuguese insisted—no, he forced his way through and brought in a forward on loan to compete with his cat.
In the medicals, the doctors claimed that the new forward’s physical condition was the best they had ever seen. It felt as though Jose Mourinho had summoned a big bull to play for him. The cat was now supposed to meow himself into a corner and stay there while the bull dismantles the opponent.
But Nah! It didn’t. After all, the word ‘suppose’ is the crux on which the world of hypotheses is built. And the hypothesis is just that – a theory – and it stays just that until proven otherwise.
So when Emmanuel Adebayor was signed on loan from Manchester City, it turned Karim Benzema to a different species of a cat: a tiger. He seemed active, ready to pounce on anything that came in his way – this is the striker Jose Mourinho wanted to see.
And Emmanuel Adebayor… well, he was good too. His best years as a footballer came right after he joined Tottenham Hotspur. At Real Madrid also, he played a fine role of a backup striker. When he joined the club, not many fans were all too glad about it. By the end of his tenure, though, most fans wanted his stay extended.
Six years down the line, Madrid face the same dilemma – they are in a dire need of a forward as both Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale have seemingly forgotten about the art of putting the ball in the back of the net.
None of these two could score in the pre-season friendlies as well as the Super Cup encounter against Manchester United. They may have done decent in linking the plays, but goals are what truly matters – and relying on an ageing Cristiano Ronaldo alone is a risk that Zidane shouldn’t take.
Of course, there are names that are being linked to the club. Kylian Mbappe is the one being touted to play at the Bernabeu, but his super-high price coupled with the lack of place in the first-team complicates things a lot more than we could imagine.
And then there is the other name: Kasper Dolberg. Now, he will be a lot cheaper than the Frenchman, but would still command a fee in excess of €40 million at least. And for all the talent that he has, his chances of flopping are more than Mbappe’s given that the latter will be played more often due to his superior talent and status than the former.
Even if we take that out of consideration, Dolberg looks really limited when compared to Mbappe. It is almost like he is a more technically gifted version of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar – and we all know what happened when the Dutchman was signed by the Merengues.
So, with all things considered, who should Los Blancos chase in order to solve the quandary that they are in?
Enter Gabriel Barbosa, aka Gabigol
Gabigol was linked to Real Madrid before eventually signing for Inter. His signing was greeted with a lot of expectations from the Nerazzurri fans. Among the two Gabriels that left Brazil last January – Gabriel Jesus to Manchester City being the other one – Gabigol was rated higher back in his homeland.
Serie A and Brazilian strikers share a good history. Almost every top Selecao striker made a name for himself in Italy – be it the mercurial Adriano or the legendary Ronaldo. And Gabigol’s move was held in the same regard as the aforementioned two, but six months after penning the deal with Inter, he seems to be a lost case.
In his time in Italy, he could only manage to start one game and make nine appearances coming off the bench, scoring one goal in the process. As expected, rumours of him wanting to leave the club have surfaced, but Inter don’t want to get rid of him completely.
The Serie A club are looking for a loan deal to revive their talented man’s career. This is where a move to Real Madrid feels like a match made in heaven. If the pre-season friendlies and the Super Cup clash against Manchester United have taught us anything, it is that the Whites need a backup forward.
Real and Gabigol: a match made in heaven?
Borja Mayoral doesn’t look ready yet and Karim Benzema seems to be taking his place for granted given that he is the only true striker in the team. Gabigol’s entry will spur the Frenchman to life as he will have a competitor who is actually worthy of his attention.
Meanwhile, for Gabigol, it probably can’t get any worse than making just one start with Inter since his move. At Madrid, he might not start every week, but Zidane’s rotation policy will grant him minutes. And that’s when he could do something.
The Brazilian has been accused of showing lethargic approach in training – it is perhaps why he couldn’t cement a starting spot at Inter. He also showed questionable attitude on the last day of the league when he stormed off the pitch after realising that he will remain an unused sub in the game against Lazio.
However, at Real Madrid, the aura of the greatest club in the world might put him in a state of disbelief. It happened with Adebayor; every game, he gave the impression that he doesn’t quite believe that he is playing for Real Madrid. The Togolese was truly happy and for once in his career, it seemed as though he was playing for the love of it rather than the money.
Indeed, the former Arsenal man was ready to take a pay cut in order to make his move permanent. Something similar will happen to Gabigol in this regard. Added to that, the glamour of playing under one of the finest midfielders of the game in Zinedine Zidane will also motivate him to work harder
Gabigol will share the dressing room with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos – people that are champions and have the mentality needed to succeed in the game. In this kind of surrounding, it is more than likely that the Brazilian will find the nectar that made him one of the most coveted flowers for the bees back when he played in Brazil.
And as for Real Madrid, they will have a player on their hands who is a genuine goal-scoring threat and will more than make up for the absence of Alvaro Morata. Indeed, Gabigol, at his best, is a ruthless finisher and has a devastating positional sense coupled with a sublime first touch and delicate ball control skills.
His off-the-ball tenacity might be a concern, but the awe of playing with brighter stars will help his feet be on the ground.
All in all, at this point in time, Gabigol seems like a very realistic and risk-free option for the Blancos. Who knows, he might as well settle down in the Spanish capital and make his stay permanent – Real Madrid will save a lot of money and have a very talented player at their disposal if that happens.Published 09 Aug 2017, 19:52 IST