Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has explained why he’s changed his mind on Arsenal summer signing Gabriel Magalhaes.
The Brazilian was one of five first-team acquisitions made by the Gunners ahead of the 2020/21 season as Mikel Arteta addressed the spine of his team with Thomas Partey also arriving from Atletico Madrid.
Gabriel reportedly cost Arsenal £27m as they fended off competition from the likes of United and Napoli to sign the 23-year-old from Ligue 1 outfit Lille.
In truth, it’s been a mixed debut season for the defender as he’s been in and out of the side since Christmas – much of which has had to do with a suspension as well as a positive Covid-19 test.
And Ferdinand admitted to being impressed with Gabriel following his goalscoring Arsenal debut on the opening weekend of the new Premier League season – a 3-0 win over Fulham.
But now he’s questioning the centre-back after claiming the Gunners star ‘folded’ during the loss to Liverpool at the weekend.
“When is the last time Arsenal signed a centre-back they can rely on completely? It’s unbelievable, they’ve gone from having absolute rocks at the back and they can’t sign a good centre-half,” Ferdinand said on the FIVE YouTube channel.
“I just don’t understand it. They’ve signed so many, they have the odd good game and you think you can see something there but then it just capitulates.
“I watched Gabriel on the first game of the season against Fulham and thought he looked alright – you can never judge a player on the one game, I know that – but as a one-off, he looked quite quick, aggressive and had a nice left foot.
“Then he just folds. It just doesn’t make sense, I can’t get my head around it.
“Is it the team, is there no protection? The defenders just look open and exposed and unable to deal with situations.
“I know he’s playing against Salah who is one of the best in the world right now but they don’t make it easy for themselves. They don’t make it pretty.”
The summer transfer window is just around the corner.
And the rumour mill is already starting to pick up speed.
Arsenal will not have a huge amount of money to spend, but Mikel Arteta will be hoping to make a number of moves, with loanee Martin Odegaard high up the list of priorities to bring in on a permanent deal.
But who would you sign? Get involved in our transfer window debate here.
Whilst Gabriel has struggled for consistency this season, he has produced some impressive performances in recent weeks.
He came up with a key goal in the Europa League last-16 first-leg win over Olympiacos last month and was praised by Arsenal fans for his goalline clearance in the north London derby success against Tottenham.
Harry Kane had hit the post with a free-kick and from the rebound, Davinson Sanchez guided an effort goalwards and with Bernd Leno in a seated position, it appeared that Spurs were about to equalise and deny the Gunners all three points.
But Gabriel got back in time to make a goal-saving clearance with his head.