Gabriel Magalhaes has confirmed that he almost signed for Everton months before joining Arsenal, but Nicolas Pepe won him over.
Gabriel Magalhaes eventually joined Arsenal in the summer of 2020, but that was only after eight or nine months of reported attempts from other clubs to lure him away – including Everton and Napoli.
Everton were the quickest off the mark, coming close to completing a deal in January 2020. After that failed, Everton and Napoli both returned for him in the summer, but he chose to join Arsenal instead.
Gabriel has since confirmed the reports in an interview this week, adding that Nicolas Pepe helped him to make up his mind.
“In the winter (of the 2019-2020 season) before the league stopped, I was already meant to sign for Everton. I underwent my medical, etc.,” Gabriel said.
“But it didn’t get done. I had already envisioned myself leaving after that season.
“I spoke with Napoli, Everton once again, but I then chose Arsenal thanks to Nicolas Pepe, who sold the club well to me.”
The saga really did drag on for a while. In mid-August, Everton and Napoli were still being named alongside Arsenal in the race, and it was only in early September that the Gunners could finally confirm the signing.
It was all worth it in the end, though. Gabriel has gone on to become a starter for Arsenal, developing a strong relationship with centre-back partner Ben White.
Only the top-three and Wolves have conceded fewer goals than Arsenal this season, and Wolves’ defensive prowess is built on a system that has also seen them score the fewest goals of any side outside the relegation zone.
Nine of Arsenal’s 27 goals conceded were in the three games Gabriel missed through injury. Adding Aaron Ramsdale and Takehiro Tomiyasu has certainly helped too, but Gabriel’s return was important.
So just over a week after Pepe helped Arsenal win three points against Wolves, the fans have another reason to be thankful for his influence.