Arsenal have confirmed the signing of Gabriel Magalhães from Lille for £27m on a five-year contract, bringing their pursuit of the centre-back to a successful end.
Gabriel agreed to join Mikel Arteta’s side 10 days ago and from that point his arrival was in little doubt. He has been in enforced quarantine since flying to London from France on 24 August, a situation that has six days to run under the government’s Covid-19 rules, but signed his contract last week and will be expected to slot into a new-look backline.
Napoli had also been interested in Gabriel, a 22-year-old Brazil under-20 international who enjoyed a breakthrough season in Ligue 1 last term, and Manchester United and Manchester City both kept across developments. But Arsenal were always in pole position and Gabriel, who is left-footed and previously spent time on loan at Troyes and Dinamo Zagreb, will join the returning loanee William Saliba among Arteta’s defensive ranks.
The signing was revealed through the club’s YouTube channel, during a programme in which David Luiz and Willian made a video call with their compatriot. Speaking on Arsenal’s website, the technical director, Edu, said: “We are delighted to have signed Gabriel. He is a player we have been studying for a while and he was in demand from many clubs, so we are proud to have agreed and completed this transfer with Lille and the player. Gabriel is a player of high quality and Mikel and his coaches are looking forward to integrating him into the club.”
That sentiment was echoed by Arteta. “We welcome Gabriel to Arsenal,” he said. “He has many qualities which will make us stronger as a defensive unit and as a team. He has proved with Lille that he is a defender with many outstanding attributes and we are looking forward to watching him grow as an Arsenal player.”
It is the second piece of major business Arsenal have completed in this transfer window, Willian signing last month after leaving Chelsea. More transfers are inevitable in what could be a frantic final few weeks of the transfer window. They are expected to announce soon that Dani Ceballos will spend another season on loan from Real Madrid after negotiations between the clubs concluded successfully.
Arteta would like to strengthen his midfield and attack further but players will have to depart if more significant fees are to be paid, with an already expensive summer also likely to include the confirmation of a new contract for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the club captain. Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira can depart if the deals are right, and Rob Holding and Sokratis Papastathopoulos find their prospects of regular football remote after the arrivals of Gabriel and Saliba. Despite appearing close to joining Wolves last week, Ainsley Maitland-Niles is likely to stay at the club after an impressive Community Shield display against Liverpool and a call-up to the England squad.