Gabriel got his Arsenal career off to the best possible start with a goal and a cleansheet as Arsenal beat Fulham 3-0 at Craven Cottage.

Arsenal's Brazilian defender Gabriel takes a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter campaign against rasicm before kick off of the English Premier League football match between Fulham and Arsenal at Craven Cottage in London on September 12, 2020. (Photo by PAUL CHILDS / POOL / AFP)
Arsenal’s Brazilian defender Gabriel takes a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter campaign against rasicm before kick off of the English Premier League football match between Fulham and Arsenal at Craven Cottage in London on September 12, 2020. (Photo by PAUL CHILDS / POOL / AFP)

I don’t think anyone expected Gabriel to be named in Arsenal’s first starting lineup of the season especially, as Mikel Arteta pointed out post-match, when you consider he hadn’t played any football in six months.

You’d never have known it.

He took to the game with ease and his goal, a towering header from a set-piece, hopefully augurs well for what is to come. He did, after all, only score two in 52 at Lille.

Speaking after the game, Arteta was full of praise for the Brazilian.

“He showed today his character and his personality because he hasn’t played any football in six months,” Arteta told Arsenal.com. “He only had a couple of sessions with us but we needed to play him today and he was terrific.

“I am really pleased with the result and the performance as well,” added our manager. “I saw a lot of positive things and a great spirit and a great commitment. We had a really intense attitude with the authority to come to this ground and show who we want to be.”

From the archives: 1 September 2020

Gabriel Magalhaes signed for Arsenal at long last with the club finally confirming the news in a Facebook event on Tuesday.

Lille's Brazilian defender Gabriel dos Santos Magalhaes (L) fights for the ball with Rennes' Senegalese forward Mbaye Niang (R)during the French L1 Football match between Rennes (SRFC) and Lille (LOSC), on September 22, 2019, at the Roazhon Park, in Rennes, northwestern France. (Photo by JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER / AFP)
Lille defender Gabriel dos Santos Magalhaes (L) fights for the ball with Mbaye Niang (R) on September 22, 2019. (Photo by JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER / AFP)

After many weeks of speculation, we finally have the confirmation we were waiting for as Gabriel Magalhaes signs for Arsenal.

We even know his shirt number and what he is earning.

Rather uniquely, Arsenal confirmed the news in a Facebook event, posting a video of the defender alongside fellow Brazilians David Luiz and Willian.

David Ornstein already reported on Monday that Gabriel had signed. It was just a matter of waiting for the official announcement from the club.

After arriving from France, the player started his quarantine over a week ago now. He’ll still have to wait another six days before joining up with his Arsenal teammates on the training pitches, but he reportedly turned up for COVID testing on Monday.

Arteta’s denials

Gabriel Magalhães
Gabriel Magalhães

The whole Gabriel saga certainly dragged on, with the constant talk of choosing between Arsenal and Napoli.

Arteta refused to confirm the deal over the weekend, despite the current reports suggesting he’d already signed by then. The head coach suggested there were still a few more details to agree before the could complete the transfer.

“We cannot announce anything yet, the deal is not finalised,” Arteta said quite candidly.

“You all know he’s a player we’ve been following for a long time and we hope we can get it done.”

Future Arsenal teammates? Chelsea's Brazilian midfielder Willian (L) vies with Lille's Brazilian defender Gabriel dos Santos Magalhaes during the UEFA Champion's League Group H football match between Chelsea and Lille at Stamford Bridge in London on December 10, 2019. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)
Future Arsenal teammates? Chelsea’s Willian (L) vies with Lille’s Gabriel dos Santos Magalhaes on December 10, 2019. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)

The media then asked Arteta if there were any problems. “Well everything is ok when both parties sign, the clubs and the players agree terms, and he goes through the medical!

“Sometimes that in the final stages is not as easy as it looks, but again we’re pretty positive that we can do the deal.

“When we get it [the deal done] I will be very pleased. He’s a player we’ve followed and we were determined that he was the right profile for us to improve our squad.

“If we are able to finalise it, we will be delighted.”