Gabriel Barbosa believes he can still earn a place in Brazil’s World Cup squad despite struggling for form since leaving his homeland for Europe.
Gabigol was considered one of Brazil’s hottest young talents when he broke through at Santos and, after featuring at the Copa America Centenario, helped his country win the gold medal at their home Olympics last year.
But after moving to Inter for a reported €25million in August 2016, the striker struggled for game-time and did not start a single Serie A match last season, scoring only once in the league.
Gabigol has subsequently been sent out on loan to Benfica but he is yet to get off the mark for the Portuguese giants, while namesake Gabriel Jesus has taken over as Brazil’s greatest prospect.
Despite a forgetful 2017, the 21-year-old thinks he can force his way into Tite’s plans for the World Cup in Russia next year.
“A player who has no ambition to go to a World Cup is a player who is not right,” Gabigol told A Bola.
“First, I want to help Benfica, to help my team-mates, to be Portuguese champions and, who knows, to go to the World Cup.”
Gabigol rejected suggestions he has been a flop in Europe, highlighting the period of adjustment needed to get used to on-pitch differences from Brazil.
“I don’t think I failed at Inter,” he said. “It’s very difficult for a Brazilian player who comes to Europe to score 20 or 30 goals in his first year.
“European football is very different and it varies from country to country. Italy is very different to Brazil and to Portugal. I need to get used to it.
“I’m now in Portugal, where the football is quicker and more dynamic. I have to be patient and wait for my chance. I give everything for my team and the important thing is that the team wins, not for me to score.
“The goal will arrive naturally, I do not seek it out obsessively.”
Reports have suggested the Brazilian’s lack of impact at Benfica could lead to his season-long loan being terminated prematurely, but he intends to stay until the end of the campaign.
“I am happy here at Benfica,” Gabigol said. “I hope to remain the whole season and it’s not true that I want to leave.
“Of course, at the end of the season I’d like to speak to Inter so I can decide on my future, but it doesn’t only depend on me.”
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