Gabriel Magalhaes set to join Arsenal after £27m fee agreed with Lille

Centre-back to leave Lille after three-year stay that included loan spells at Troyes AC and Dinamo Zagreb; Brazilian in London to complete medical

Gabriel dos Santos Magalhaes of Lille during the match between Lille v Reims at the Stade Paul Debresie on July 13, 2019 in Saint-Quentin France 0:38
The latest news from the Emirates as Arsenal move a step closer to completing a deal for Lille defender Gabriel Magalhaes

Gabriel Magalhaes is set to join Arsenal after they agreed a £27m fee with Lille for the defender.

Arsenal have beaten off competition from Premier League rivals Manchester United, who held late discussions with the player's representatives, Everton and Italian club Napoli to sign the 22-year-old.

The player watched Lille's opening day 1-1 draw with Rennes from the stands on Saturday and it is understood he is now in London to complete a medical.

Gabriel was a key member of the Lille side that finished fourth in Ligue 1 last season and started each of their games in the Champions League, including twice against Chelsea.

Gabriel completed the most passes into the opposition half in Ligue 1 last season - ranking second for forward passes and 16th for winning aerial duels
Image: Gabriel completed the most passes into the opposition half in Ligue 1 last season - ranking second for forward passes and 16th for winning aerial duels
This graphic shows Gabriel's distribution in the Champions League this season, revealing the majority of his passes are played just inside his own half down the left flank and directed upfield
Image: This graphic shows Gabriel's distribution in the Champions League this season, revealing the majority of his passes are played just inside his own half down the left flank and directed upfield

The Brazilian centre-back is set to join a revamped Arsenal defence that will also be boosted by the arrival of William Saliba, 19, who was signed from St Etienne for £27m last summer, but was loaned back to the French club for the 2019/20 season.

In June, David Luiz signed a new one-year contract at Arsenal, while Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares made their loan moves permanent from Flamengo and Southampton respectively.

In addition to the deals for Mari and Soares, Arsenal have also signed Brazilian winger Willian. The 32-year-old signed a three-year deal with Arsenal following the end of his contract with Chelsea.

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It is the second time in 12 months Arsenal have signed a player from Lille, following Ivory Coast international Nicolas Pepe's £72m move to the Emirates from the French club last summer.

Who is Gabriel Magalhaes?

Gabriel has attracted interest from a host of European clubs this summer
Image: Gabriel attracted interest from a host of European clubs this summer

Sky Sports' Nick Grounds takes a closer look at the defender:

Gabriel started his career at Avai, a side who currently play in the second tier of Brazilian football.

After 21 appearances, he made the move to Europe in January 2017, signing for Ligue 1 side Lille for a fairly modest fee of £1.5m.

Gabriel initially struggled to adapt to senior football at Lille and went out on loan twice. First to Troyes, where he spent the first half of the 2017/18 season, before a temporary move to Dynamo Zagreb in January 2018.

First-team opportunities continued to evade him, moving between the reserve and senior sides before returning to Lille for the start of the 2018/19 season.

Gabriel Magalhaes

Gabriel took his time to cement himself in the side, not starting a Ligue 1 game until February 2019. But he has not looked back since; forging a relatively successful partnership with former Southampton player Jose Fonte at centre-back.

After a seven-year absence, Gabriel helped Lille qualify for the Champions League in 2018/19, finishing second in Ligue 1 to PSG.

Gabriel has continued his ascent this season, with a string of impressive performances both domestically and in the Champions League.

Lille president: Gabriel a real fighter

Gabriel Lille
Image: Lille president Gerard Lopez says Gabriel is "a real fighter"

Lille president Gerard Lopez spoke to Sky Sports News about Gabriel's move before it was formally agreed, and said the Brazilian is "at the start of something big" in his career.

"He is a great kid and that is one of the most important things," Lopez said. "He didn't have an easy start with us given the fact that the coach at the time didn't trust him because of his age.

"He is a real fighter and has immense physical presence but knows how to use it smartly. He is still raw and I know the Brazil national team are looking at him very seriously for the A-team.

"I think he is at the start of something big, and he does everything to succeed."

Centre-back Gabriel can cover a rampaging left-back, with the majority of his defensive actions made down that flank, while also clearing things up in his own penalty box
Image: Centre-back Gabriel can cover a rampaging left-back, with the majority of his defensive actions made down that flank, while also clearing things up in his own penalty box

Gabriel, William Saliba could be Arsenal pairing for 'best part of 10 years'

If Arsenal complete the signing of Lille's Gabriel, he could form a defensive partnership with William Saliba for 'best part of 10 years', French football expert Jonathan Johnson told the Sky Sports Transfer Talk podcast.

Paris-based Johnson believes the pair could provide the defensive stability the Gunners have needed in recent seasons, with both well-suited to the physical side of the Premier League.

"It would be a pairing of two very good, very promising central defensive talents and potentially a partnership which could serve Arsenal for the best part of the next 10 years," he said.

    What else have Arsenal got planned?

    Dani Ceballos
    Image: Dani Ceballos is believed to be eager to stay on at Arsenal

    Sky Sports News' Dharmesh Sheth gives his insight on some of the other deals Arsenal have planned this summer:

    Following the arrivals of Willian, Gabriel, Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares at the Emirates Stadium, it's understood Dani Ceballos signing on loan for Arsenal again next season remains a possibility.

    Talks are ongoing between the Gunners and his parent club Real Madrid over securing another loan deal for the midfielder, with Ceballos believed to be keen on staying at Arsenal.

    Ceballos is expected to link up with Zinedine Zidane's side for pre-season training, ahead of the 2020/21 La Liga campaign, while negotiations continue.

    He is under contract at Real Madrid until 2023, and has featured in 56 games for the club since his arrival at the Bernabeu from Real Betis in 2017.

    Mesut Ozil has previously indicated he is staying at Arsenal for the remainder of his contract but it is clear he is not in Arteta's plans.

    Image: Ozil appears to be happy to see out his Arsenal contract despite not being part of Mikel Arteta's plans

    Ideally, Arsenal would like to offload the former Germany international to get his huge wages off the payroll but that is easier said than done. Ozil has entered the final year of his contract and appears happy to see it out.

    The 31-year-old has not played a single minute for the Gunners since the Premier League restarted, the club have maintained that he has been absent from matches with a back injury.

    An agreement is close between Arsenal and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang over a new three-year contract for the Gabon international.

    The player sent out a cryptic tweet of an hourglass emoji as the forward is close to ending speculation about his future with his current contract set to expire at the end of the season.

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