Ralph Hasenhüttl previews Arsenal test
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Arsenal defender Gabriel has recenlty been linkied with a move to Barcelona after Xavi expressed admiration for the star. But the Brazilian has responded and made his Gunners ‘priority’ clear amid speculation.
Arsenal are bracing themselves for a summer assault from Barcelona as Xavi is keen to sign Gabriel Magalhaes, but the defender’s priority is reportedly the Gunners. The Brazilian has become a crucial part of Mikel Arteta’s side since signing from Lille in 2020, and reports in Spain have suggested that Barcelona are looking to sign Gabriel this summer.
However, according to Fabrizio Romano, the defender is focusing on his future with Arsenal. The admission comes as a blow to Barcelona who will be looking to replace Gerard Pique in the near future. But it’s the news that Arsenal fans wanted to hear as Gabriel revealed he is happy in London.
Magalhaes said: “I feel good, I feel at home at Arsenal. It’s a great squad to be a part of and together I am sure we can achieve a lot. I am very happy here. Reaching the top four is our aim, but we know how tough it will be.”
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The comments come after reports in Spain have linked Gabriel to Barcelona, but these are wide of the mark, according to Romano. The football journalist revealed: “He’s only focused on Arsenal – no talks with Barca as of today, his priority is UCL race now.”
Barcelona are on the hunt for defenders, as they are yet to secure the long-term future of Ronald Araujo, and Pique isn’t getting any younger. And after they were well beaten by Frankfurt in the Europa League quarter-final, it shows how much work is to be done at the club.
The Catalan side have already agreed to sign Andreas Christensen on a free transfer this summer once his contract expires with Chelsea, and they’ve been in talks with Antonio Rudiger too. But they’re reportedly on the hunt for a left-footed centre-back, and Gabriel is one of their targets, according to Sport.
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The report claims that Xavi is an admirer of Gabriel and potential signing has already been discussed amongst the board at the club. They also added that Barcelona would be willing to offer players in exchange as part of any deal with Arsenal.
The players mentioned so far have been Memphis Depay, Riqui Puig and Neto, who the Gunners originally tried to sign in 2020. But with Aaron Ramsdale and Martin Odegaard now thriving, these options may no longer entice Arteta.
Arsenal do need a new forward though, but Depay could be a risky option, as he has already failed to impress at Barcelona, as the Catalan side had to sign Ferran Torres and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to increase their goal threat. And Depay has already flopped in the Premier League after an unsuccessful stint with Manchester United.
But it looks as though a deal will not even reach the negotiation stages, that is if Gabriel sticks to his word. But Arsenal are in a transitional stage under Arteta, and the Brazilian may be keen to ride things out at the Emirates.
However, failure to make the top four this season could be a major factor, as Arsenal are now behind Tottenham in the race for fourth spot. Champions League qualification was in their hands, but quick-fire defeats to Crystal Palace and Brighton have left them trailing their north London rivals.
Barcelona are almost guaranteed to make next season’s Champions League as they currently sit second in La Liga, and have a game in hand on the rest of their top four competition. But they crashed out of the group stages this season, for the first time since the 2003/04 campaign.
The Catalan side are a sleeping giant, and Arsenal are a muted heavyweight, with both sides expected to thrive once again. But the pair look no closer to reaching their long-term goal than they did at the start of the season.
Arsenal could be the real deal once again if they can secure a world class striker this summer. But if they have to settle for Europa League football, they may find their targets more difficult to convince ahead of next season.
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