The transfer market is open and full of clubs looking for reinforcements ahead of the new season.
One name that continues to pop up that many people may not be synonymous with, is Gabriel Magalhaes. The Brazilian defender has been heavily linked with a number of clubs, including Manchester United, Everton and Napoli with a £30million move touted.
It was originally expected that he would follow Victor Osimhen to Naples, after Lille accepted a world record bid for an African player for the striker. The story that originally came out was that Napoli had made a double bid, with Gabriel being the second part of that. However, Osimhen is officially a Napoli player already and Lille’s president says Gabriel will make a decision on his future soon.
This has led to speculation that Everton could hijack the deal, with the Premier League appealing to the 6ft 2′ centre-back. But then Manchester United reportedly entered the equation. According to Mohamed Bouhafsi of RMC Sport, United have held talks with Gabriel’s representatives and Lille about a potential move although there have been no official bids yet.
So who is Gabriel? What’s he good at? Would he do well in England?
Firstly, Gabriel is a central defender from Brazil aged just 22 years old. He made 30 appearances for Lille this season in all competitions including the Champions League as they ended the campaign in fourth place following the COVID-19 cancellation. He is good in the air, quick over the ground and still has plenty of attributes that can be ironed out and coached to become even better.
If he were to sign for United, the expectation is that he would replace or at least compete with Victor Lindelof. When you compare them statistically, it has to be done with a pinch of salt. Manchester United play a more possession based game than Lille and often have to defend less in a game. With that said though, Gabriel’s stats are impressive.
According to WhoScored, on average he wins 3.2 aerial duels per game in comparison to Lindelof’s 2.7, makes 1.7 tackles per game compared to Lindelof’s 0.8 and 3.3 clearances compared to Lindelof’s 3.4. He also betters the Swede when it comes to interceptions per game, with 1.2 to Lindelof’s 0.7. So what we can establish from that is that Gabriel is a competent defender.
The next question that needs to be asked however is whether or not he’s a good partner for Harry Maguire. Maguire was signed for £85million a year ago and made captain halfway through the season when Ashley Young left. It’s fair to say he is indispensable to Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side. Maguire had a good campaign but was prone to errors and physical weaknesses that only a good partner would be able to help.
United are severely lacking in pace at centre-back with their current partnership and their other options in Eric Bailly and Axel Tuanzebe couldn’t stay fit if their lives depended on it. Gabriel would solve that issue. Along with his passing ability, his speed is one of his better attributes and helps him on the rare occasions that he is caught out of position.
He’s big and strong, quick and mobile and a good footballer with the ball at his feet. At only 22 years old, Gabriel could seemingly be the gem of a centre-back that United need to not only partner Maguire currently but to become the main man going forward.
At a reported fee of just £30million, Gabriel could be an astute piece of business and one with little risk but high reward. The experience of Lindelof and Maguire will help him in development but also mean he doesn’t have the pressure of having to play in every single game. Solskjær will have some depth in the position that he trusts and knows can all compliment each other in some form.