Gabriel Magalhaes finally joined Arsenal in the summer of 2020, but only after eight or nine months of reported attempts by other clubs to lure him – including Everton and Napoli.
Everton were the fastest, approaching a deal in January 2020. After that failure, Everton and Napoli both returned for him in the summer, but he opted to join Arsenal instead.
Gabriel has since confirmed the reports in an interview this week, adding that Nicolas Pepe helped him make up his mind.
“The winter (of the 2019-2020 season) before the league was shut down, I was already supposed to sign for Everton. I had my medical etc.,” Gabriel noted.
“But that was not done. I had already imagined leaving after this season.
“I spoke with Napoli, Everton again, but then I chose Arsenal thanks to Nicolas Pepe, who sold me the club well.”
The saga really dragged on for a while. By mid-August, Everton and Napoli were still named alongside Arsenal in the race, and it wasn’t until early September that the Gunners were finally able to confirm the signing.
It was worth it in the end, though. Gabriel became a starter for Arsenal, developing a strong relationship with centre-back partner Ben White.
Only the top three and Wolves have conceded fewer goals than Arsenal this season, and Wolves’ defensive prowess relies on a system that has also seen them Goal Fewest goals of any team outside the relegation zone.
Nine of Arsenal’s 27 goals conceded were in the three games Gabriel missed through injury. The addition of Aaron Ramsdale and Takehiro Tomiyasu certainly helped too, but Gabriel’s return was important.
So just over a week after Pepe helped Arsenal win three points against Wolves, fans have another reason to be grateful for his influence.