With Gabriel Magalhães set to sign for Arsenal with a fee of around £27m being reported, let’s analyse what the Brazilian centre back will bring to the Emirates.
Gabriel is likely to play as the left centre back alongside William Saliba in a back 4, or as the left centre back in a back 3 alongside Saliba & David Luiz. A position in which he has shown extreme promise in during the 2019/20 season.
During the 19/20 season, Gabriel made 29 starting appearances for Lille in both Ligue 1 and the Champions League. In those appearances, Gabriel performed extremely well and showcased his strengths: Aerial strength, tackling & distribution.
In the 19/20 season, Gabriel competed in 153 aerial duels, out of those, he won 96 of those, 63%. A respectable figure for a centre back playing in his first full season of top flight football. For comparison, Van Dijk won 75% of his aeriel duals this past season.
Gabriel boasts very good positional awareness as a defender, making on average 1.16 interceptions per game. Additionally, Gabriel made 0.84 blocks per game as well as 3.38 clearances per game.
Gabriel has a strong tackling technique, in the past season he made 1.76 tackles per game while committing 1.04 fouls per game. In comparison, Van Dijk who I’ve set as the benchmark for CB performance made 0.7 tackles per game while committing 0.4 fouls per game.
In terms of his distribution, Gabriel averaged 58.28 passes per game with a 80.92% successful passing rate. Furthermore, Gabriel played 3.52 long balls per game. Something which will be extremely useful to Arsenal’s playing style given the speed of Aubameyang & Pepe on the break.
Gabriel’s passing game will be extremely important to the way Mikel Arteta has his Arsenal side playing given the tendency to play out from the back. A likely partnership of Saliba & Gabriel boasts extreme promise for the North London side.
Along with his passing game, Gabriel’s aerial & defensive strengths bring significant improvement to Arsenal’s backline which was been shaky in the past. Despite David Luiz’s exquisite passing range, his defensive ability is questionable, Gabriel’s is not.
With Arsenal likely to play a 4-3-3 system next season, the potential backline of Bellerin – Saliba – Gabriel – Tierney with Leno in goal behind them has the potential to be one of the best defences in the Premier League, a huge boost for Arsenal’s top 4 hopes.
Overall, the signing of Gabriel Magalhães is phenomenal business for Arsenal and a signing which the club really needed. A strong defender with great passing ability which complements the system of Arteta perfectl. With a fee of £27m, this is incredible business from Arsenal.