As Arsenal announce the signing of another Brazilian, Gabriel Magalhães, from Lille, for a fee around 22 million pounds, it is good to take a look back at his career and see what the Gunners are going to get from him.
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Although Arsenal signed Pablo Marí in January, manager Mikel Arteta has dipped into his transfer fund to bring in Gabriel who is another left-footed centre-back which could confuse others to why he has done this when he already has the Spaniard. The Brazilian u23 is agile and enjoys playing on the front foot. His passing range is impressive and his aerial ability is strong with him standing at 6′ 2″.
The former Ligue 1 player left Brazil very young. As is the case for many Brazilian players. In 2016, he played a pivotal role as his newly relegated side, Avaí, finish second place in the second tier of Brazilian football which resulted in them going straight back to the first tier. Gabriel is the youngest of four brothers. He was at Avaí since he was 14 years old, having left the City of São Paulo, when he went south to play in Florianopolis, leaving his family behind to pursue his dream.
“I was 13 years old when I left my home to play for Avaí. I got there very young and had never been far away from my family. It was a very difficult time for me. At one point, I asked to leave. But I sat down with my parents and they told me this was my only opportunity”, he told in an interview in 2018.
In 2016, he played 21 out of the 38 games. By the start of 2017, he was playing with the likes of Richarlison and David Neres, for the U20 Brazilian National team. It was when Lille signed him for 3 million Euros he had options from two of the biggest teams in Brazil, Palmeiras and Flamengo, but chose the French outfit because it was his dream to play in Europe.
“In the end, Palmeiras and Flamengo didn’t make any concrete offers, despite them showing interest. Lille had a clear offer and how they would do it. That weight in and the fact that Lille is a team in Europe, which was my career dream. It was my big goal [to play in europe]” he said to ESPN Brazil back in 2017.
At the start of the 2017-18 season, Lille signed now Leeds United coach Marcelo Bielsa. The defender then went on loan to the Ligue 1 side, Troyes in which he only played four games which led to the loan agreement being terminated early. He then went on loan to Dinamo Zagreb, where he played only one game and ended up on the bench for most of the games, even though he won the Croatian Cup. Gabriel played 10 games for Dinamo Zagreb II.
Gabriel dos Santos Magalhães with some familiar faces in 2018. pic.twitter.com/jZUpVxuIv1
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His luck changed in February of 2018 when Lille had some injuries to their squad. He went on to start in 14 out of the last 16 games in that season, helping Les Dogues qualify for Champions League football.
In the 2019-20 season, the defender only missed four out of the 28 games Ligue 1 played before being cancelled due to COVID-19. His side, lead by french manager, Christophe Galtier, managed to stay in fourth place, which guarantees them Europa League. His performances in the league warranted him a call up to the Brazilian National U23, which was going to The Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020. But that also was cancelled due to COVID.
Although Gabriel still is very young, especially for a centre-back. He has been in Europe for a few years and his experiences with loans in Croatia and playing in France should help him settle in England. At 22 years old he arrives at Arsenal with some experience and looks like a long term partner for the other new arrival, William Saliba.