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Add Gabriel Barbosa to Your Summer Watchlist

Considering the Brazilian striker as an addition for Jürgen Klopp's forward options moving forward.

Miguel Schincariol/Getty Images

With Brazil taking part in the Copa America and Rio Olympics this Summer, some peripheral players in the national team set up will be given a chance to shine.  Santos' 19 year old forward, Gabriel "Gabigol" Barbosa is expected to be one such player, and should be on Liverpool fans' watch list if he gets the nod in either competition.

Far from being a peripheral player in terms of talent, Barbosa has been tipped as a potential solution for Brazil's #9 position since making his debut for Santos at 17. He has a sweet left foot, drives forward with tricks and explosiveness, and has an air of arrogance about his play that draws the eye whether he is cutting in from the right to shoot, or turning backwards to exchange a mundane pass with his central defense.

The issue so far for the lad's development is an extremely common one for Brazilian wonderkinds: hype and the poor standard of the Brazilian league's defenses. Expectations have far outpaced the forward's actual development, even though last year saw him notch up 10 goals in 30 appearances Brazilian Serie A.

The fact the player is still in the Brazilian league for the lead up to the Olympics (surprise Copa America squad call up, notwithstanding) will likely only serve to add fuel to this hype between now and then. That is of concern to those who have seen all this hype go to Gabigol's head a bit over the previous two seasons.

Gabriel may have been best served in following his Santos teammate, Victor Andrade, out the door and into a smaller European league, but some will point to Neymar's relatively delayed departure from home turf as a key developmental component for the player.

Regardless of where one falls on this debate, this Summer will be one where people in Brazil and in Europe will be looking for him to show that he can make the grade at a higher level of the game.

Now, anyone who paid attention to Leandro Damiao's career will note that a strong showing at the Olympics doesn't necessarily guarantee anything for Gabriel moving forward. It will, however, potentially give the player a chance to shine next to no less a star than Neymar, depending on which competition the Barcelona player picks to play in.

That would be no small thing for a burgeoning talent trying to demonstrate that he's more than yet another trick pony with expensive hair, and more column inches to his name than he has earned with his play.

For that reason, and because he is a left-footed powerhouse who knows how to work a flank effectively, is as slick as you like in quick interchanges, and flashes real strikers' instincts when operating off the shoulder, this may be an interesting target to consider for Jürgy and the boys.

At the very least, he should make for exciting viewing for anyone interested in spotting the next great South American goal getter before he arrives on the old continent.

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