Arsenal have been linked with Lille’s Gabriel Magalhães, according to France Bleu. The 22-year old, Brazilian centerback has been a mainstay for the French side for about a season’s worth of games after he, alongside Nicolas Pepe, helped guide Lille to a 2nd place finish in the 2018-19 season.
One of the great things about transfer season is that it forces you to learn about guys you know next to nothing about. Gabriel is one such player. I’ll admit, other than having seen his name on the odd team-sheet for Lille’s Champions League matches, I’m not that familiar with him.
But he seems to fit 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.
And he’s Brazilian, which given the Edu-Kia Joorabchian connection that seems to be calling the shots Arsenal now, seems to matter. Going forward, I pretty much expect every available Brazilian player to be linked to Arsenal, so we’ve got that to look forward to.
Anyway. That Napoli, Manchester United, and Everton are also said to be interested in him suggests that he’s the real deal.
As will be the case with all of Arsenal’s transfer links this summer, the price might prove a sticking point. He’s valued at £25M, which Arsenal probably can afford, but would eat up the lion’s share of this summer’s estimated transfer budget.
If Arsenal can make one paid transfer this summer, is centerback the best place for the club to spend? Maybe.
There’s a bit of a centerback crisis at the club right now. Pablo Mari, Calum Chambers, and Shkodran Mustafi will start next season on the shelf for at least a month. That leaves Sokratis, who hasn’t been anywhere near the side, William Saliba, who hasn’t played a Premier League minute in his career and a competitive match since March, Rob Holding, who still hasn’t recaptured his pre-ACL tear form, and David Luiz, who is David Luiz, as the centerbacks heading into next year. Kieran Tierney has showed he can play LCB in a three, but I don’t think that is his best position or where Mikel Arteta wants to play him long term.
Although the injuries throw everything into flux, I think independent of any centerback purchases this window, Arsenal are looking to move on from one or more of the current stable. The most likely of those is Sokratis, who is out of contract at the end of the season. Shkodran Mustafi is also out of contract after this year, but there was talk Arteta wanted to sign him to an extension, and given his injury, I don’t think he will be sold this window.
Circling back to Gabriel, he seems like a good buy. He’s the right age and seems to have the skill-set that Mikel Arteta wants from a centerback. It probably won’t happen just because most transfer rumors are just that, rumors, but if it does, it’ll be a good piece of business.
And yes, I haven’t forgotten that Arsenal have already had one go-round with a Brazilian centerback named Gabriel. If we get a second one, hopefully it works out better.