It took a while for the official announcement but Arsenal have made Gabriel Magalhães the newest member of the Arsenal squad.
Before we get into the stats, I do want to comment that the PR content team did a great job to figure out a way to make a fun announcement, especially considering that the player is still quarantining.
I also want note that statistics for defenders is something that should be taken with a grain of salt. Defending statistics are heavily influenced by the style of play and tactics of the team. More importantly, it is trying to stop something from happening, and doing that successfully doesn’t always produce an action that has a statistic recorded for it, and actually recording an event could be because of a mistake allowing for that opportunity.
Gabriel Magalhães Radar
Gabriel Magalhães: By the numbers
All stats are per 90 unless noted, Percentile is a comparison to players who played at least 900 minutes at center back in the Big 5 European Leagues from 2017-18 to 2019-20 and the rank is for center backs during the 2019-20 season.
Again defending stats are far from perfect and these will be not adjusted for possession.
Tackle, Attempted – 2.07 per 90, 53rd percentile, rank 141
Tackle, Successful – 1.77 per 90, 70th percentile, rank 90
Interceptions – 0.95 per 90, 9th percentile, rank 293
Blocked Passes – 0.39 per 90, 38th percentile, rank 182
Clearances – 3.71 per 90, 20th percentile, rank 231
Foul, Committed – 0.78 per 90, 68th percentile, rank 112
Blocks – 0.78 per 90, 60th percentile, rank 132
Ball Recoveries (Opta) – 5.86 per 90, 67th percentile, rank 118
Ball Recoveries (FBRef)- 10.95 per 90, 66 percentile, rank 103
Aerial Duel, Total – 5.39 per 90, 84th percentile, rank 58
Aerial, Won – 3.49 per 90, 85th percentile, rank 59
Error – 0.09 per 90, 23rd percentile, rank 265
I think that the statistics above are pretty interesting. For the most part, it shows a player that is slightly above average at defensive actions. Lille as a team are actually among the lowest at total defensive actions (20th in tackles attempted, 17th in interceptions, 5th in fouls, and 6th in possession in Ligue 1).
At 6’2″ it also isn’t surprising that he is good in the air and that is something that should be helpful in the Premier League. I also like that when he does attempt tackles, his team comes away with the ball at a high rate while also not picking up many fouls.
Pass completion – 82.1%, 49th percentile, rank 170
Expected Pass completion – 84.9%
Passes Completed – 52.57 per 90, 76th percentile, rank 94
xPass +/- – -1.82 per 90, 56th percentile, rank 171
Passer Rating – 50.18, 68th percentile, rank 90
Final 3rd Entry Passes – 4.79 per 90, 91th percentile, rank 30
Progressive Passes – 4.31 per 90, 86th percentile, rank 53
Passing Value Added – 0.05 per 90, 69th percentile, rank 82
xG Chain – 0.19 per 90, 59th percentile, rank 152
xG Buildup – 0.17 per 90, 63th percentile, rank 135
Shot Creating Actions – 0.65 per 90, 73rd percentile, rank 102
Dribble, Attempted – 0.3 per 90, 59th percentile, rank 164
Dribble, Successful – 0.22 per 90, 56th percentile, rank 161
Progressive Carries – 2.8 per 90, 67th percentile, rank 113
Progressive Carry Distance – 155.16 per 90, 84th percentile, rank 73
Miscontrolled – 0.26 per 90, 25th percentile, rank 233
Dispossessed – 0.34 per 90, 15th percentile, rank 267
xTurnovers – 0.99 per 90, 81st percentile, rank 64 (more about xTurnovers here)
xTurn +/- – 0.3 per 90, 72nd percentile, rank 90
Ball Retention Rating – 72.22, 58th percentile, rank 133
These are the statistics that make me excited about Gabriel.
He looks to be an above-average passing center back. His pass completion rate could use some improvement, but the lower rate seems to be affected by his propensity to try to advance the ball.
He has areas to strengthen in his passing, most noticeably is that he is one of the most one-footed players, even among center backs who aren’t that often tasked with passing with their weaker foot. He uses his left foot 88% of the time, making him the 15th most one-footed player among center backs. This could partially be explained that he for the most part did not face a lot of pressure, with just 12% of his pass attempts coming under pressure in Ligue 1 last season.
I think that overall this kind of ball progression profile is exactly what Mikel Arteta wants from his deep players. He looks like a player that will fill the role that David Luiz has held on the left side of the center backs.
I will be completely honest and say upfront that I have not watched him play any full matches. A lot of this is down to BeIn sports carrying Ligue 1 and the channel not having a wide carriage him in the US. From the scouting reports I have read (this is a good one and I think Mark is one of the go-to people for scouting on defenders) and the stats I have seen above makes me optimistic about this signing.
I think the fact that Arsenal have Luiz in front of him will be a positive, as he shouldn’t have to be thrown into the fire early in his time with Arsenal. I think he fits the profile for Arsenal to be a ball dominate possession team, adding good ball progression from deeper positions. William Saliba has a similar profile, giving Arsenal two very good ball-playing center backs for the future.
It is exciting to see the potential for a long term settled center back partnership at the club.
Sources: Opta via Whoscored and my own database, StatsBomb via FBRef