Arsenal have confirmed that defender Gabriel Magalhães has signed a new long-term contract with the club, believed to be a five-year deal.
The news has come as something of a surprise for Arsenal fans, who had, not unreasonably assumed that the club’s focus would have been on the likes of Bukayo Saka, William Saliba and Gabriel Martinelli, all of whom are considered to be a pressing concern for the club.
Nevertheless, the news that Gabriel, who joined the club from OSC Lille for around £26m.
Gabriel’s initial deal with the club ran until 2025, however, the club were keen to prevent him from entering the final two years of his deal and also to reward him for his consistent performances over the course of his time with the club.
Last season, Gabriel established himself as a nearly undroppable member of Mikel Arteta’s squad, proving to be just as lethal from set-pieces as any striker and a capable head at the back.
Gabriel initially joined the club in 2020, becoming the club’s second left-footed central defensive signing in as many months, following the arrival of Pablo Marí.
Mikel Arteta felt that Arsenal’s balance, not to mention the benefit of having a naturally-footed player playing on the correct side of the back-four, was of huge benefit to the club.
Gabriel was signed just before the boom for such players began to take the transfer market by storm. The likes of Lisandro Martínez and Joško Gvardiol have since fetched astronomical prices, while Gabriel was signed for a relatively small fee.
Gabriel’s first season with the club was not the immediate success many had wanted it to be as the club sunk to a pathetic 8th place finish, but the Brazilian soon formed a core part of the Gunners’ defence last season, forming a formidable partnership with Benjamin White.
This summer, Gabriel was subject to interest from Serie A giants Juventus, who were reportedly interested in paying around £60m for the defender, but Arsenal rebuked any advances for the defender and Gabriel, for his part, was equally uninterested in moving.
The focus for Arsenal now has been on providing support for Gabriel in the position. The possibility of Nico Schlotterbeck was previously considered before his move to Borussia Dortmund, as were the likes of the aforementioned Lisandro Martínez and Calvin Bassey, with reports suggesting that a January swoop for Frankfurt defender Evan Ndicka could be on the cards.
Gabriel’s ability extends far beyond which foot he prefers, however.
The former-Lille man has proven himself to be exceptional in the air, rarely losing an aerial battle and is strong in the tackle, with exceptional passing range.
There have been suggestions, particularly recently, that the Brazilian may potentially need to curb the more energetic side of his game, which has often led to some calamitous errors.
This season, Gabriel has largely benefitted from having the assured and quick presence of both Benjamin White and William Saliba alongside him, as well as having Oleksandr Zinchenko and Kieran Tierney, who have covered whenever he has been caught out of position.
Gabriel may not have been the main contract Arsenal needed to secure, but make no mistake, this is a deal that needed to be done too.
With potential suitors from around Europe beginning to register interest in the Brazilian, agreeing fresh terms was of the utmost importance and will no doubt provide the young defender with a confidence boost ahead of Sunday’s trip to Southampton.
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