According to Football Insider, Everton have been dealt a major blow in their pursuit of Gabriel Magalhaes as the protracted transfer is ‘on the verge of collapse’. Napoli are now leading the race for the 22-year-old and are closing in on a £22m deal with LOSC Lille to bring him to the Stadio San Paolo.
Why are we pushing so hard for a centre-back?
Carlo Ancelotti isn’t short on options with Yerry Mina, Michael Keane, Maon Holgate, Jarrad Branthwaite and Lewis Gibson at centre-back, but Mina has struggled for fitness and consistency while Branthwaite and Gibson are still young and inexperienced, so a tried and tested alternative would be a benefit.
Marcel Brands wants to lower the average age of the first-team squad, so most of the players we’re looking at are going to be in their early-20s. Experience is still important, however, which is why Gabriel was on our radar. He turns 23 in December and made 34 appearances in all competitions last season, so he’s been a regular at Lille and would have made an instant impact.
How good is Gabriel?
Very good. He has all the attributes to be an outstanding centre-back, so it’s easy to see why we’ve pushed so hard to sign him.
As per WhoScored, Gabriel won 83/128 aerial duels, completed 82.2% of his 1483 passes, blocked 37 shots/crosses/passes, had 2/2 successful dribbles, made 78 clearances, gave away only one foul every 116 minutes and averaged a tackle (41) or interception (22) every 33 minutes.
The 22-year-old is dominant in the air, expert at throwing his body on the line to block chances and reads the game well to snuff out attacks. He’s also composed in possession.
What happens now?
With Napoli closing in on a deal, we’ll have to turn our attentions elsewhere. Jean-Clair Todibo, Morata, Unai Nunez, Mohammed Salisu and Wesley Fofana have been linked with a move to Everton in the last 12 months, but it remains to be seen which player we’ll end up signing.
It’s sad to have previously agreed personal terms with Gabriel, only for the move to fall through due to the pandemic, but Napoli won’t mind.