Gabriel explains decision to snub Juventus and talks up William Saliba partnership


    Gabriel and William Saliba have shown signs of forming a promising central defensive partnership
    Gabriel and William Saliba have shown signs of forming a promising central defensive partnership (Picture: Getty)

    Arsenal defender Gabriel insists he remains fully committed to Arsenal but admits it was rewarding to have been linked with prestigious clubs over the summer, including the likes of Barcelona and Juventus.

    The Brazil international joined the Gunners from Lille two years ago and has established himself as a cornerstone of Mikel Arteta’s revamped side.

    Gabriel’s performances last season in particular attracted the attention of several European giants but, despite the lack of Champions League football currently on offer at Arsenal, the 24-year-old remains fully committed to his manager’s rebuilding project.

    ‘It’s always nice to get that recognition but I’m really focused on Arsenal,’ he told Sky Sports.

    ‘I am very happy here. I’ve got a good relationship with my team-mates and I am fully committed to the project.

    ‘I am convinced that, with the project we have, we can achieve a lot.’

    Arsenal’s season got off to a more than encouraging start last Friday when Gabriel, alongside the returning William Saliba who made a belated and encouraging debut, helped ensure a clean sheet in the 2-0 win at Crystal Palace.

    Gabriel Magalhaes impressed at the heart of Arsenal's defence against Crystal Palace last week
    Gabriel Magalhaes impressed at the heart of Arsenal’s defence against Crystal Palace last week Picture: Getty)

    Saliba has had to wait three years to make his competitive bow for the Gunners having been loaned out on three separate occasions following a £27million move from Saint Etienne in the summer of 2019.

    The wait looks to have been well worth it, however, and such was his performance at Selhurst Park, allied to those in pre-season, that it looks as though he will be a permanent fixture in the side over the coming weeks.

    ‘I have been here for two years now, so I do have experience that I can use to help him,’ said Gabriel of his role in helping Saliba adjust to English football.

    Ben White played at right-back to accommodate William Saliba against Crystal Palace
    Ben White played at right-back to accommodate William Saliba against Crystal Palace (Picture: Getty)

    ‘But at the same time, he can help me. He has a lot of quality and a lot of physical strength out on the pitch.

    ‘We have similar qualities. I think we complement each other well.’

    The France international’s rapid progression has forced Ben White, last summer’s headline £50million signing from Brighton, into an unfamiliar role at right-back but Gabriel insists it’s not surprise to see Arteta making adjustments to accommodate a player of Saliba’s talent.

    ‘He’s a young player who came here at a very young age and then went out to get some experience,’ he said.

    ‘Now, despite his age, he is already playing for the French national team. That tells you how good he is. He’s here to help the team and he’s a very promising talent.

    ‘He is a good friend of mine already,” Gabriel adds. “We speak French together, so that helps. He has added a lot of quality to the team and I think he has a brilliant future ahead of him.’

    MORE : Brendan Rodgers claims Arsenal have gone to ‘new level’ with three new arrivals including William Saliba

    MORE : Manchester City could make late swoop for Arsenal star as transfer deadline approaches

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