Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta caused quite the stir when he dropped Gabriel Magalhaes for the first three league games of the season, but it may have been an inspired decision
Arsenal ace Gabriel Magalhaes has opened up on discussions with Mikel Arteta at the start of the season after being dropped.
The Brazilian defender has been a mainstay at the heart of the Arsenal defence since joining from Lille in 2020. But plenty of eyebrows were raised when Gabriel was omitted from the starting line-up for the first three games of the current campaign.
At the time, speculation suggested Gabriel’s had had been turned by interest from a big-money move to the Saudi Pro League outfits, while others claimed Arteta was merely trying something different with his back-four, as midfielder Thomas Partey was used at right-back, with Ben White moving into Gabriel’s role.
However, the Brazil international soon returned to the starting line-up and has barely looked back since.
Sunday’s trip to West Ham will mark Gabriel’s 150th appearance for the north Londoners. It’s a ground he’s had joy at before, but the centre-back will be well aware of the threat the Hammers pose given Arsenal have already been beaten twice by David Moyes’ men this term.
Ahead of the clash, Gabriel has addressed the early-season drama and speculation surrounding his club future and discussed his conversations with Arteta. “It was tough, obviously at the start,” the 26-year-old said. “I wanted to play and it was very difficult for me but I understood what the coach had to do.
“It is difficult for any player to not be in the team but now I’m back in I want to keep on working hard to prove my worth.
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“He (Arteta) spoke to me and obviously explained the reasons behind the decision. Why I should stay – but the most important thing was to remain focused and concentrate – he knew how important I was to the team, so I’m happy to be back and to be able to help the team in every game.”
Gabriel’s central defensive partner William Saliba often earns plenty of the plaudits, but those who watch the Gunners every week will recognise the pair’s respective strengths compliment the others weakness and form one of the strongest backline duos in the division.
In the Autumn of 2022, Gabriel put pen to paper on a contract extension that ties him to the Emirates until 2027. If he keeps up this rich vein of form, that could prove to be a defining decision from Arteta for all the right reasons.
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