Gabriel, who will soon be announced as an Arsenal player, was persuaded, in part, to sign for Arsenal by the messages he received from Arsenal fans on social media, according to Sam Dean of the Telegraph. These messages made him feel wanted.
The Brazilian central defender is expected to be officially unveiled as an Arsenal player in the near future. The Gunners have secured the 22 year old’s signature for £27 million. He is understood to have signed a five year contract with the North London club.
Mikel Arteta and Edu Gaspar, Arsenal’s technical director, played a massive role in convincing Gabriel to sign for Arsenal. As he was weighing up his options, the Arsenal duo made it clear how much they wanted the player to move to the Emirates.To the Brazilian, they came across as genuine and credible.
The former Avai defender was not always destined for the top. As a fourteen year old, he impressed on trial at Avai and was offered a permanent place in their academy. He had never been so far away from home and decided not to take them up on their offer. He packed his bags and returned to Sao Paulo. His father got involved and made him aware of the size of the opportunity he was being afforded by Avai.
The player called the club and asked whether they would allow him to return. They agreed despite the fact that he was a player they were merely taking a punt on due to his height and the fact that he was left footed.
He got the chance to play for the youth team at Avai when he was 15 years old because the player who was supposed to start was dropped from the team on account of skipping school, something the Brazilian club was very strict about. The player did not return to the team for a significant period and Gabriel made the most of this unexpected opportunity to play a year above his age group.
Gabriel rose up the ranks and made his debut for Avai’s senior team in 2016 due to his impressive performances for the reserves. In 2017, he received a call up to the Brazil Under 20 team. He began attracting attention from the biggest clubs in the country like Flamengo and Palmeiras but eventually signed for French club Lille in 2017.
He was loaned out to French side Troyes soon after arriving in France and despite being called a ‘rough diamond’ by the Troyes manager, he played just one game for the senior side. The following year, he was sent on loan to Croatian club Dinamo Zagreb.
He made a solitary appearance for their senior side but played more often for their reserve team. In a game between Dinamo Zagreb and Arsenal’s reserve teams, Gabriel played against Emile Smith Rowe, Joe Willock and Eddie Nketiah who will be his teammates soon. The Gunners won the match 2-1.
He enjoyed his time in Croatia despite the lack of first team action and wanted to extend his stay there. Luis Campos, Lille’s director of football, rejected his request and he returned to the French club. Due to an injury suffered by Lille defender Adama Soumaoro in February 2019, Gabriel was given an extended run in the first team. He took the chance with both hands and has never looked back.
The Avai academy graduate forged a strong partnership with Jose Fonte in the heart of Lille’s defence and developed into one of Europe’s most exciting young centre backs. Among all the defenders who completed at least 200 duels in Europe’s top five leagues last season, only five players have a better success rate than Gabriel.
The 22 year old was an integral part of a Lille side that finished fourth in the French league last season. They had the fourth best defensive record in the country. He made 34 appearances in all competitions for the French club in the 2019/20 campaign.
Arsenal conceded 48 goals in the Premier League last season and had the second worst defensive record among the top eight sides in the league. Their inconsistencies at the back have garnered criticism on a regular basis and it has been evident that they are in need of better defenders. Gabriel will significantly improve the club’s options at the back.
His journey has not been straightforward but his determination and will to improve have earned him the opportunity to play for Arsenal and help them return to the top of the game.
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