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What does Gabriel Magalhães bring to Arsenal?

Arsenal has announced the signing of Gabriel Magalhães.
Arsenal has announced the signing of Gabriel Magalhães.
Harsh Pillai
Modified 03 Sep 2020
Top 5 / Top 10

Who is Gabriel Magalhães?

The Brazilian had attracted interest from a host of clubs but he has penned a long term deal at Arsenal, for a reported fee of £27 million.

Gabriel Magalhães is a left-footed centre-back who has been one of the findings of last season, working under Galtier. His composure and confidence on the ball are what truly catches the eye, despite the fact that he is one of the strongest defenders in the air.

An all-action midfielder truly made for the modern game, Gabriel Magalhães possesses precisely the qualities needed to succeed as a centre back for Arsenal in the Premier League.

There are certain qualities a modern-day CB needs to have. The player should possess a decent vision and should have the ability to ping long or ground passes, while also being quick on his feet to track back or carry the ball forward. Being aerially adept and strong in duels are two other important qualities a centre back should possess.

Gabriel Magalhães ticks these boxes.

Gabriel Magalhães has the ability to ping long balls into the opposition half.
Gabriel Magalhães has the ability to ping long balls into the opposition half.

The Brazilian cannot be termed as a top-notch ball-playing centre back just yet, but the signs are positive. Playing long balls in the air is one of the qualities a ball playing CB must have, but breaking lines with ground passes, holding his position in a high line and being consistent at it is something Gabriel Magalhães is yet to develop into his game.

Under the guidance of Mikel Arteta and a supreme ball-playing centre-back like David Luiz, the Brazilian will eventually become one of the best, learning and playing alongside the veteran.

Gabriel Magalhães
Gabriel Magalhães's stats indicate that he is a top-quality centre back in the making.

While being a great passer, Gabriel Magalhães is a tall centre-back who wins a staggering 70% of his aerials. His impressive build, standing at 6’3, helps him win headers efficiently while losing only 33% of his ground duels. These are impressive stats for a 22-year-old who is still learning his trade.

One of Gabriel’s better qualities is the fact that he possesses the immense pace to track back and stop forwards from running in behind. He rarely gets exposed in a high defensive line and is confident at making tackles, while also being an efficient 1v1 defender, which makes him an indisputable starter for Arsenal.

Gabriel Magalhães had an impressive season for French side Lille in the 2019/20 season.
Gabriel Magalhães had an impressive season for French side Lille in the 2019/20 season.

When you look at two of the costliest defenders in the Premier League, Harry Maguire and Virgil Van Dijk, the former struggles to play in a high line due to his inability to cope up in 1v1 situations. Maguire has been caught napping tons of times due to his lack of pace and that is what separates Van Dijk from the rest.

On the other hand, Gabriel slots perfectly well in a high defensive line. When compared to Arsenal’s defenders, he has everything Mikel Arteta cannot find in his current crop of defenders, i.e composure with and without the ball, pace, passing range and aerial prowess. This is precisely what he brings to the table.

One major flaw in Gabriel’s game is his positioning. This will obviously come into his game with time, but in the Premier League, he will not get away with as much as he does in Ligue 1, although he does have the speed to cover up his mistakes.


At Arsenal, Mikel Arteta is likely to stick with three at the back in the coming weeks. William Saliba, David Luiz and Gabriel Magalhães are the likeliest starters in the Arsenal XI, and this trio has the perfect combination of pace, aerial prowess, experience and composure.

Arsenal fans should be excited about the future.

Published 03 Sep 2020, 19:20 IST
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