Arsenal have announced the signing of Brazilian centre-back Gabriel Magalhaes from Lille for a fee of £27 million on a long-term contract.

Arsenal have finally put the long saga with Lille OSC defender Gabriel Magalhaes behind them and announced his signing today. The Brazilian cost the Gunners £27 million and will sign a long-term contract with the English club. He will wear the #6 jersey, once worn by former captain Laurent Koscielny.

22-year-old Gabriel is a graduate from Avai’s youth academy but completed a transfer to Lille at the age of 18. Since his arrival in 2017, he was sent on consecutive loans to Troyes and then Dinamo Zagreb, but ultimately found a place in the team in the 2018/19 season, playing the role of the third-choice centre-back.

His development during these years was fast, and could not be ignored. He eventually usurped Adama Soumaoro’s spot, who was sent out on loan for the entirety of the last season. In his 24 appearances for Lille in 2019/20, Gabriel, helped Lille keep 11 clean sheets as they finished 4th, conceding the third-lowest goals in the league.

Over the course of the season, the Brazilian managed one interception, 1.7 tackles, and 3.3 clearances per game. Moreover, he was only dribbled past just seven times in 24 games despite coming up against the likes of Neymar Jr., Kylian Mbappe, Dimitri Payet, among others.

Gabriel is an exceptionally composed presence on and off the ball, and would effortlessly fit into Mikel Arteta’s side. In fact, he boasts of some awe-inspiring ball retention abilities and was fouled more times last season than he has committed them. He also plays in 3.7 accurate long passes per game, just one less than David Luiz, which means he could replace his error-prone compatriot in defence.

Additionally, Arteta can make the best use of his pace and field him in a three-man backline alongside Luiz and William Saliba or Shkodran Mustafi, who has managed to reinvent himself since the turn of management.

Either way, Arsenal seem to no longer be a shadow of their former self, and it is tough to argue that the signing of Gabriel is not vital for Arsenal, who are on course to change their persona under a new manager. They also continue to be linked to Atletico Madrid sensation Thomas Partey, a player who would further improve this side by leaps and bounds.

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