West Ham join race to sign Brazilian striker Barbosa

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RIO DE JANEIRO, Jan. 2 (Xinhua) -- West Ham United are preparing a formal bid to sign Brazilian striker Gabriel Barbosa, according to media reports in the South American country.

However the Hammers face competition from Flamengo, where he spent 2019 on loan from Inter Milan, as well as Premier League rivals Chelsea and Crystal Palace, O Globo reported.

It added that West Ham are willing to offer 17 million pounds (23 million U.S. dollars) to secure the 23-year-old on a long-term deal.

The figure trumps a proposal already submitted by Flamengo, who are expected to make an improved bid for the forward in the coming days.

Barbosa, who is nicknamed Gabigol, scored 43 goals in 59 matches across all competitions for Flamengo in 2019, helping the club to the Brazilian Serie A and Copa Libertadores titles.

His impressive season came after a prolific 12-month loan at Santos, where he netted 27 times in 53 matches.

Barbosa was considered one of the most promising young forwards in the world in 2016, when he joined Inter Milan for 60 million U.S. dollars from Santos.

But he managed just one goal in 10 matches for the Italian club before an equally unsuccessful six-month loan spell at Benfica.