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Libertadores hero Barbosa signs permanent deal with Flamengo

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Flamengo's Copa Libertadores hero Gabriel Barbosa has signed a permanent deal to keep him in Rio de Janeiro until 2024, the Brazilian club said on Tuesday.

"We have the red-and-black striker's goals until 2024! GABIGOL IS OURS!" Flamengo wrote on Twitter, using Barbosa's nickname.

The on-loan 23-year-old forward scored two late goals to earn Flamengo only their second ever Libertadores triumph in a 2-1 victory over the then-holders River Plate of Argentina in November.

A month later, Flamengo were narrowly beaten by Liverpool in the Club World Cup final in Qatar.

"The (Flamengo) nation embraced me. We live in an intense way here. We're passionate! We smile! We suffer! We vibrate! We break barriers. If it's for the good of the Nation, I'm staying," said Barbosa in a video message on his Instagram page.

Barbosa was in stunning form for Flamengo last year as the Rio de Janeiro outfit also won the Brazilian league, scoring 43 goals in 59 matches in all competitions.

He had been a rumored transfer target for Premier League pair Chelsea and Tottenham.

He spent 2019 on loan at Flamengo from Inter Milan, whom he joined in 2016.

His move to Italy never bore fruit and he was also sent back to his original club, Santos, on loan in 2018.

He played only 10 games, scoring one goal for Inter, who signed Belgium forward Romelu Lukaku from Manchester United in the summer.

Lukaku has formed a potent partnership alongside Argentina international Lautaro Martinez up front for Antonio Conte's side, meaning Barbosa's hopes of regular first team football in Milan were limited. 

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