For Arsenal, the transfer window seems to become more manic by the day. The Gunners are linked with a new name every couple of hours, sending the fans into a frenzy at least twice a day. It’s said that a deal for Willian is nearing completion and the club is still in talks with Philippe Coutinho too. Add to that list a young defender from Lille who looked all set to join Manchester United, but has now changed his mind.
Outlets in France are reporting that Gabriel Magalhaes is close to sealing a move to the Emirates in a deal worth £30million. The defender is one of the most highly-rated youngsters in Europe and Arsenal are set to back up last summer’s coup of William Saliba with the 22-year-old.
Here’s what Gabriel Magalhaes brings to Arsenal.
Age: 22 | Height: 6’3” | Weight: 78kg | Position: CB | Left-Footed
What Arsenal fans must be made aware of is that the 22-year-old doesn’t have much top-level experience. The Brazilian has made 30 Ligue 1 and 5 Champions League appearances this season and this is all he has to show for the game time amongst Europe’s elite. Before Lille, he was playing at Brazilian side Avai, where he graduated from the youth academy. However, his performances this season have shown a real coming of age and he’s seemingly developed into a mature defender in a short space of time.
Standing at 6’3” tall, Gabriel is a physically dominant centre-back that will fare well in the Premier League. Despite being young, the 22-year-old has exercised those attributes in France. Across 24 Ligue 1 appearances, the 22-year-old won 3.5 aerial duels a game. For context, only Shkodran Mustafi averaged more this season with 4.3, while David Luiz only averaged 1.6.
Gabriel’s presence in the team alone makes the Gunners more of a force in the air and better equipped to defend set-pieces. Last season, the Gunners conceded 14 goals from set-pieces, one of the worst tallies in the league, the 22-year-old will help negate that.
Comfortable in Possession
The reason why Sokratis has only played 13 minutes of football since the lockdown is because Mikel Arteta values defenders who can play out from the back. The Arsenal manager wants every player on the pitch to be comfortable on the ball in tight positions, especially his defenders who will be initiating most attacks. That’s why Gabriel Magalhaes would be a perfect fit for Arteta’s rebuild as he looks to implement a style of play that needs ball-playing defenders.
This season, the left-footer averaged 61.8 passes a game with an 82.2% pass accuracy. The 22-year-old averaged 3.7 long balls a game, proving that he has a wide passing selection. One criticism of Gabriel is that he possibly relies too much on his left foot to make passes, however, Arteta will encourage that as he prefers players on the left side of the defence to use the subsequent foot.
Last season, the centre-back completed 41 tackles out of the 48 he attempted, in that time he also made 22 interceptions. Playing for Lille, a notorious counter-attacking side, Gabriel has found himself in the trenches a lot throughout the season, making 78 clearances whilst blocking 18 shots, 8 crosses and 9 passes. In all those games, the youngster was only dribbled past 7 times. His defensive style has been described as aggressive but also measured when needed. He has all the tools to be a world-class centre-back and under Arteta, he could fulfil that potential.