Arsenal-bound Gabriel Magalhaes is ready made for the Premier League
‘Absolute machine’ Gabriel Magalhaes is ready made for the Premier League… the £22m Arsenal-bound defender can be Mikel Arteta’s ball-playing centre back and get the best out of compatriot David Luiz
- Arsenal have agreed a deal to sign in-demand Lille defender Gabriel Magalhaes
- The Brazilian was being courted by Manchester United as well as by Napoli
- Mikel Arteta has been keen to add to his defensive options for the new campaign
- Sportsmail runs the rule over Magalhaes and whether he is a smart acquisition
Gabriel Magalhaes’ future looks to have finally gained some clarity after Arsenal agreed a deal to sign the Lille defender.
Sportsmail reported on Tuesday that a deal worth £22million plus add-ons was in place to bring the Brazilian, who is expected to sign a five-year contract, to the Emirates Stadium.
Compatriots Willian and David Luiz can help him settle but does this signing represent a good fit for what Mikel Arteta needs ahead of the new season? Sportsmail runs the rule over the 22-year-old.
Gabriel Magalhaes is reportedly closing in on a £22m plus add-ons move to join Arsenal
Who is he?
At 22, Gabriel has already established himself as one of Europe’s most impressive centre backs.
Lille have a habit of producing players before selling on for huge fees and the Brazilian appears to be the latest to take his talents to the Premier League with a move to Arsenal imminent.
The northern French side picked him up from Brazilian side Avai, with Gabriel hailing from Sao Paulo.
A couple of disappointing loan spells followed – first at Troyes and then at Dinamo Zagreb – having lacked the trust of management in the first team but when an opportunity presented itself due to mounting injuries to those ahead of him, Gabriel took it and thrived.
While he is yet to receive a call up to Brazil’s senior squad, expect that to change if he is getting regular minutes marshalling Arsenal’s backline.
The 22-year-old has been a revelation in Ligue 1 and he has been thrust into the spotlight
Does he suit the Premier League?
Everton had been sold on Gabriel for some time but dithered and now look set to look on at the Brazilian as the one that got away.
What he brings most to Arsenal are traits that no other player in the squad has, making it a seriously sound investment by Mikel Arteta and the club’s hierarchy.
Data shows that Magalhaes, who stands at 6ft 3in, did not give away a single penalty in the shortened Ligue 1 season.
He also did not make a single mistake which led to a shot by an opponent. Both are key as they are errors which have blighted compatriot and future Arsenal team-mate David Luiz when he is having an off-day.
His height will also make him a key asset in both attacking and defending set-piece scenarios.
Mikel Arteta has been keen to add qualities his side don’t have and Gabriel fits that mould
The player gained Champions League credentials this season despite Lille finishing bottom of their group behind Chelsea, Ajax and Valencia. But that experience will stand him in good stead and Arteta is acquiring a player that is of a different make-up to the defenders currently at his disposal.
Arteta has spoken previously of bringing in players who cover a specific need of the current group. While still only 22, it definitely feels like Gabriel fits that mould.
‘We have to assess (transfer business),’ Arteta said earlier this summer. ‘I am very clear of what we need.
‘It’s not a thing that I want to publish to the media and to the world, it’s something that we keep internally.
‘But some are because we don’t have enough players in the position, sometimes because we need more specificity in some of the positions and in others because we just have to improve.’
What’s been said about him?
Lille, unsurprisingly given they know the amount of interest in him, cannot speak highly enough of their young star defender.
‘I feel he is among the top five dominant central defenders in Europe right now,’ club president Gerard Lopez said earlier this season.
‘His statistics, which aren’t well covered outside of France, shows that his percentage for winning duels is pretty unheard of in a league that’s extremely physical.’
Jose Fonte, who has played alongside Gabriel, could also only speak highly of the latest rising star to come out of the Stade Pierre Mauroy.
‘Now he is a regular member and everyone is talking about him,’ Fonte told the Liverpool Echo earlier this year. ‘I am really happy.
‘A football player can always learn. He was very attentive. With humility and hard work, he will be able to play at a great level.’
A keen passer, he can be a ball-playing defender for Arteta in either a back three or back four
Will he go straight into the side?
One of the big bonuses about Gabriel is that he would be able to slot into a back three or a back four.
The return of William Saliba on loan is another boost for Mikel Arteta and he could now press on with a 3-5-2 which would see Gabriel and Saliba flank David Luiz in the middle.
Luiz looks a lot more comfortable in the middle of a back three and that showed during the FA Cup semi-final and final in which Arsenal beat Manchester City and then Chelsea.
Gabriel, 22, and Saliba, 19, would provide the energy either side to keep pace with the speedy attackers which dominate attacks in the Premier League.
Gabriel’s consistent ability to make the right decision and not make mistakes would be invaluable in high pressure moments, particularly away from home, and his presence would facilitate Luiz to be more of a sweeper in the middle.
David Luiz will be key in helping him settle but Gabriel could also allow the Brazilian to thrive
What is he like off the pitch?
For a player that is said to see Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar as his idol, Gabriel can be flash off the pitch with his clothes and cars.
He is enjoying himself and that is likely to endear him to a lively Arsenal dressing room with star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang particularly keen on cars, while Hector Bellerin is a big advocate of fashion off the pitch.
On his Instagram he is seen kite flying and also spending his downtime exploring Paris.
A move to London would appear appealing in terms of his desire to explore capital cities and an extroverted character like Gabriel is likely to fit in brilliantly as part of Arteta’s squad.
A sharp dresser and keen to relax off the pitch, Gabriel should fit in well in the dressing room
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