The strong desire of Gabriel Magalhaes to play in this summer’s Olympics could force Mikel Arteta to give an Arsenal star he previously snubbed a chance to prove him wrong.
Arsenal will be hoping to bounce back from their dismal campaign and once again launch an assault on the top four next season. Without European football for the first time since 1995/96, their reduced fixture schedule may prove a crucial advantage. Nevertheless, a fast start will surely be key to their season-long hopes.
So it comes as bittersweet news for Arsenal fans to learn of Gabriel Magalhaes’ Olympic ambitions.
The Brazilian, 23, enjoyed a stellar campaign either side of a rocky spell in the winter months after contracting Covid-19.
He played a pivotal role in their late season surge, playing 90 minutes each time as Arsenal won their final five league matches.
That is because the centre-half wishes to play for his native Brazil in the Tokyo Olympics.
“A dream. That’s the word to describe this possibility,” Gabriel told GloboEsporte (via the Mirror)
“Representing the green and yellow shirt is always a source of pride and pleasure. Without a doubt it is a dream and also a goal.
“The generation that won in 2016 will be remembered forever. I hope to be able to write my name in history too.”
While the final say will rest with Arsenal, it appears unlikely they will deny Gabriel his request.
The competition begins on July 23 and concludes on August 8. With the Premier League kicking off on August 14, and his pre-season heavily disrupted, Gabriel will likely be unavailable for selection early on.
The Frenchman, 20, is yet to make a senior Arsenal appearance despite arriving to much fanfare in 2019.
Saliba is highly thought of in France, and proved his worth with a glittering six-month loan spell with Nice last season.
He was out in the cold in the first half of the campaign, leading to him questioning Arteta’s faith once a loan deal materialised.
Pending Gabriel’s potential absence, Saliba may now be given the opportunity to prove Arteta wrong first-hand.
Aston Villa sensing Arsenal opportunity
Meanwhile, Aston Villa have identified Arsenal playmaker Emile Smith Rowe as a potential target, along with Norwich City’s Emi Buendia, according to the Daily Telegraph.
The academy graduate was one of the bright spots of Arsenal’s disappointing season. He made 33 appearances in all competitions, providing four goals and seven assists.
But reports recently emerged that Arsenal were looking to bring in further options in his position, which could force the 20-year-old to consider his future.
The Telegraph claim that Villa would be willing suitors should Smith Rowe fail to agree an extension to his Arsenal contract, which runs until 2023.
The Gunners are desperate to keep hold of him, but are looking at other players. For example, Norwich’s Buendia is a target for them.
But the Telegraph confirm that Villa want Buendia as well, so it could be a case of one or the other.