Arsenal

Arsenal

Premier League • England

Arsenal ace reveals why he turned down Premier League rivals to join the Gunners

Mikel Arteta and Gabriel Magalhaes applauding Arsenal fans, May 2021

Arsenal defender Gabriel Magalhaes has admitted he was on the verge of signing for Everton before former Lille team-mate Nicolas Pepe convinced him to join the Gunners.

Gabriel completed a £23.4m switch to the Emirates Stadium in September 2020, with Arsenal fighting off rival clubs. It was well known at the time that Everton were in the hunt. And now the player has revealed just how close he came to joining the Merseysiders.

The central defender was making a name for himself with Lille when Everton first made their approach. The Toffees got as far as agreeing a deal with their French counterparts and Gabriel also underwent a medical.

The transfer looked to be in the bag but for one reason or another the deal did not happen. Only Everton and Lille will know the reason it fell through, but it ended up costing the Goodison Park outfit.

Gabriel ended up seeing out the season with the Lique 1 side before Everton got another chance to sign him. But by this time the Gunners had also entered the frame along with clubs in Italy.

Arsenal held the trump card

It turned out the Gunners had the trump card that would win them the day. Winger Pepe had been a team-mate of the Brazilian at Lille before he joined Arsenal the year before.

While Gabriel was weighing up his next move, Pepe stepped in and got the deal done.  He convinced Gabriel to turn down all other clubs in favour of joining Arsenal.

For the first time the defender has now opened up on the move. Speaking to Le Petit Lillois he revealed just how well Pepe sold the club to him.

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Gabriel knew that he would be on the move as Lille had a history of cashing in on star players. And once he had spoken to Pepe, he knew where he wanted to play his football.

Smooth talking Pepe

“Lille are a great club, a club that sells a lot so I knew I had to show myself. 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,” the player revealed.

“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.”

Everton’s loss has been Arsenal’s gain with Gabriel going on to make 44 appearances for the Gunners, scoring five goals.

Gunners legend Ian Wright recently piled praise on Gabriel and Ben White. Wright believes the duo have formed a solid partnership in the heart of the defence and help keep Mikel Arteta in his job.

And now it would appear Arteta also has Pepe to thank for convincing Gabriel to join him at the Emirates.