Three seasons ago Arsenal completed the signing of Gabriel Magalhães from Ligue 1 side Lille for a fee of £27 million. He joined the side at the very start of Mikel Arteta’s rebuild, but was still a standout performer. Fast-forward to the present day, he has played over 125 games for the famous Red and White. However, he seldom gets the recognition he deserves considering his outstanding performances on a consistent basis.
Something that was very surprising to see is Arteta leaving him out of the squad at the start of the new Premier League campaign in a bid to test new tactics. This included Thomas Partey play the Zinchenko role at right-back to accommodate the new signing Jurriën Timber. this left Gabriel on the bench for the first three games of the season.
It looked like he was on his way out of the club, with rumours circulating that Saudi Arabian side Al-Ittihad and Juventus were interested in signing the defender.
Things quickly changed for the Brazilian, with Timber being injured Mikel Arteta reverting back to the backline that performed immensely last season. Reintegrating him back into the squad allowed the partnership of Gabriel and Saliba back into the side. They both complement each other perfectly, and are easily one of the best defensive duos in the league.
Gabriel’s key abilities
An underrated trait of Gabriel’s is his availability to play. Last season he featured in all 38 Premier League games. There are many reasons why this is essential to succeeding as a side. Having a lineup of consistent starters throughout the season means no disruptions in rhythm. If players are coming in and out of the squad, it is not beneficial, especially in a role as a defender.
He is 6 foot 3, which gives him a huge aerial presence. Per 90 minutes, he wins 2.96 aerial duels on average, putting him 88th percentile against other defenders. Gabriel creates a huge problem for the opposition when it comes to set pieces, scoring a total of seven headers for the club.
💪 THAT ONE COUNTS
⚡️ GABRIEL RISES HIGHEST TO NOD HOME FROM TROSSARD'S CORNER
⚪️ 0-1 🖤 (21) pic.twitter.com/1jhcb9LwsB
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) March 12, 2023
Last season he was joint top for goals from a defender with three goals, with the likes of Virgil van Dijk hitting the back of the net the same amount of times.
Something that has developed a lot throughout his time at Arsenal is his passing. His ability to perform as a ball-playing center back is something that is not spoken about enough. His passing stats this season are incredible, per 90 minutes he has averaged 56.02 successful passes, with a pass completion rate of 89.85%. That puts him in the 94th and 96th percentile in each category, respectively.
His ability to defend is exceptional, allowing him to fit into Mikel Arteta’s system perfectly. He is aggressive, fantastic in the box and quick, and is yet to be dribbled past so far this season. Gabriel loves to stand up to attackers, mentally straining them. In past times, he was a player who dived into tackles and would be caught off guard. That has changed, as now he is a character that puts uncertainty into the opposition when they face him.
Gabriel deserves praise
The stats produced are colossal and prove what he brings to the side, alongside what one sees with the naked eye. A step in the right direction for him is being called up to the Brazilian squad recently. He was left out of the squad last season even though he was an outstanding player in an Arsenal side competing for the title.
A player of his caliber should not go under the radar with his performances. Moreover, with Arsenal’s start to the season, more eyes can witness how he performs on the biggest stage in football, continuing to do what he does in his role in the Premier League and internationally.