Flamengo in talks with Atletico's Costa as Gabigol replacement

The two-time Brazil international has not played in his home country since leaving for Europe as a youngster, and is open to the move

Flamengo have opened discussions with Atletico Madrid forward Diego Costa after identifying him as their first-choice replacement for Gabriel Barbosa, Goal understands.

Barbosa, known as Gabigol, scored 31 goals in 38 games for the Brazilian club as they won a league and Copa Libertadores double, including two goals in the Libertadores final.

On loan from Inter, Flamengo are hoping to be able to sign Gabigol on a permanent deal, but former Chelsea man Costa is their preferred back-up if a deal cannot be struck.

Goal has learned that negotiations have already begun, using 34-year-old left-back Filipe Luis – a team-mate of Costa’s at both Chelsea and Atletico – as an intermediary.

Costa has not played club football in Brazil since leaving Sau Paulo-based Barcelona-SP as a youngster in 2006. He has spoken in the past of dreaming of returning to play in his nation of birth, and has indicated a willingness to play for Flamengo.

Luis, too, has already spoken about his desire to link up with Costa again.

In an interview with the Copa Libertadores’ official website, Luis said: “He is the ideal player for Flamengo, with his style of play. The fans would take to him quickly, and I hope to be here to live this dream with him. It would be very cool.”

Costa rejoined Atletico from Chelsea in the summer of 2018, but has struggled to replicate his old goalscoring form and has scored only seven goals in La Liga since then.

His current contract runs until June 2021, and Atletico would be willing to negotiate a sale. They value him somewhere around the €20-30 million mark.

He recently underwent injury on a herniated disc, which could see him out of action for as long as 12 weeks, but Diego Simeone no longer sees him as an irreplaceable member of his starting eleven anyway.

Inter, meanwhile, are believed to be demanding around €35m for the on-loan Gabigol, a figure which would put him out of reach for Flamengo as a permanent option.

After working his way back into the international fold with Brazil, he is likely to be a wanted man in the coming months and is believed to be keen on a return to Europe having failed to make an impact with Inter or Benfica.

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