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Gabriel Magalhaes: Profile of Brazilian Lille centre back

Chelsea have had successful 2019/20. Well, so far at least. Whether it will count or not is a discussion for another day. Either way, currently sitting in 4th with a 3 point lead over Manchester United, Frank Lampard’s debut campaign with his beloved side has been promising. Of course inconsistent at times and dropping points in games they really shouldn’t have. Going forward, they’ve looked exciting and threatening in front of goal. Yet the main problem the Blues have had is at the back, conceding the 2nd most amount of goals in the Top 10 behind Tottenham and Burnley. Could Gabriel Magalhaes be the solution to their problems?

According to reliable French source Manu Lonjon, the 22 year old is closing on a move to Stamford Bridge. The centre back has risen to prominence in Ligue 1 in 2019/20. Having joined Lille in 2017, he has established himself in the first team this season, making 34 appearances in all competitions. Now, once the situation surrounding the pandemic has cleared, Magalhaes looks set for a move to the Premier League. But not necessarily London, as Everton have also been heavily linked to the the Brazilian.

Gabriel Magalhaes – Style of Play

At 6ft 3, Magalhaes is obviously a physical presence as a centre back. The video shows on occasions he uses his strength to hold off the attacker and subsequently clear the ball away from his box. Of course with his height too, the Aval youth product is very good in the air, winning a staggering 3.5 aerial duels per game in the French League this season. Undoubtedly an aerial threat from set pieces, as well as commanding in his own box.

But what makes the Brazilian U20 international different from most centre backs is his progressive style of play. By progressive, I don’t just mean being comfortable on the ball and playing out from the back. He’s incredibly confident going forward. The video highlights on numerous occasions Magalhaes dribbling out of defence. He has no fear in making runs into the final third and looking for passes to create chances. Let alone passes, the Lille centre half is even willing to take shots without hesitation. Bear in mind, he’s a centre back!

Averaging a staggering 3.7 long balls per game, the defender is always looking to build up attacks from the back too. The video showcases his passing range and the ease with which he can start moves going forward from his own half. Switching play to create space for the wide sided players. With an 82.2% pass accuracy in Ligue 1 this season, he doesn’t often get it wrong either. This is perhaps what is increasingly being expected from the modern-day centre back. A role that contributes far more offensively than it did 10-15 years ago.

The most important aspect of Magalhaes’ game is obviously the defensive side. The Brazilian, as highlighted in the clips, positions himself well to intercept the ball. Averaging 2.2 interceptions per game in the Champions League this season, the centre back is well placed to cut out through balls from the opposition. Sometimes in awkward fashion, as he is left-footed and occasionally finds himself on the wrong side of defence. Yet with 3.3 clearances per game in Ligue 1, it shows Magalhaes also has a no-nonsense side to his game. Furthermore, he’s an able tackler and uses his physicality well to shield the ball.

Too soon for a move?

Gabriel Magalhaes isn’t the finished article by any means. He’s slightly one-footed and needs to sharpen up parts of his game to cut it in the Premier League. Also just one season of first team football for Lille may raise a few eyebrows. Perhaps you could argue he should spend another season in France to develop and prove his worth. Or choose Everton over Chelsea as the initial step up for his career.

Gabriel Magalhaes in action for Lille

But on the other hand, a left footed defender that is confident on the ball and has played in the Champions League. No doubt, the Brazilian is a prospect and would be far more comfortable than Rudiger or Zouma on the left side of defence. At 22 years old too, he has plenty of time to develop and mature into a fine defender. This could be a shrewd signing for Chelsea, if they can beat Everton to his signature in the summer…

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