Lille have reportedly accepted bids from Arsenal and Napoli for 22-year old centerback Gabriel Magalhães, according to multiple outlets. It’s now down to Gabriel to decide where he would like to play. Arsenal are believed to be favorites to land the young Brazilian, according to some French outlets. The agreed-upon fee seems to be in the €30M range.
I’d note, however, that La Voix du Nord, the paper that broke the Pepe deal, does not have Arsenal as favorites. Their reporting does not have anything about which club Gabriel prefers at this point.
A decision could come as soon as tomorrow, but I wouldn’t expect anything official from either Arsenal or Napoli until later this week, regardless of where he picks. Whichever club he chooses will have to prepare the announcement, and that takes time.
Arsenal were reportedly interested in Gabriel in the January window, but at that time, Lille were looking for north of €40M. If the reports of the agree price are accurate, it’s a significant price decrease, almost certainly caused by the financial strain caused by COVID-19-related shutdowns. Lille have already purchased a replacement in Dutch youth international Sven Botman, and the club recently gave Gabriel’s #4 kit to another player for a recent friendly.
Gabriel is moving. The question is where to.
Here’s a description of him from when we first covered the rumors earlier this month:
He fits the profile of what Arsenal should be after in the transfer market. At 22, he already rates extremely well in defensive metrics like tackles and aerial duels won compared to other European-based CBs. That Breaking the Lines article also rates him pretty well on the ball, especially when it comes to long passes over the top.
Gabriel is left-footed, which with Pablo Mari starting the season in the training room, would fill an immediate need for Arsenal. There are arguably more pressing gaps to fill, but the club could do with adding another promising, young centerback.
The Gunners are in a bit of a strange place with centerbacks at the moment. The stalls are full, but is it a poorly constructed stable? Pablo Mari, Calum Chambers, and Shkodran Mustafi will all start the season on the injured list. Sokratis, two short cameos aside, is approaching Mesut Özil-levels of favor with Mikel Arteta. Rob Holding has yet to recover his pre-ACL tear form. William Saliba is 19 and hasn’t played a minute in the Premier League. David Luiz is a stopgap, not a long-term solution.
Arsenal are likely looking to sell a centerback this summer. Adding another one would make it even more likely that the Gunners part ways with somebody on the roster. Rob Holding is the likeliest candidate to move, followed by Calum Chambers. Both are still relatively young, homegrown, and British, which makes them valuable to other Premier League clubs. I put Holding ahead simply because he’ll be fit to start the season. Arsenal probably would like to move on from Sokratis, but the market for his services is not a large one; I expect him to play out the last year of his contract and leave on a free.
Keep your fingers crossed, Gooners. We might have good news coming soon.