Gabriel Magalhaes

Ligue 1 Player Analysis: Lille’s brilliant defender Gabriel Magalhaes

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Performing with consistency, conviction and confidence, Lille central defender, Gabriel Magalhaes, has been one of the standout stoppers in Ligue 1.

One of the shining lights in Christophe Galtier’s brilliantly coached Lille team, who currently sit fourth in the standings despite selling star men Nicolas Pepe, Rafael Leao, Thiago Mendes and Youssouf Kone, the Brazilian’s been tremendous this campaign.

Attracting plenty of suitors courtesy of his fine form, the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Everton and Borussia Dortmund have all been interested, which has hardly come as surprise, for the 22-year’s proven his quality both domestically and in Europe during Lille’s Champions League crusade.

 

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A real revelation at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Gabriel’s exuded plenty of composure, class and clarity on the pitch, as the formidable presence has excelled on both sides of the ball.

Starting with his defensive output, and the former Troyes and Dinamo Zagreb loanee has undertaken his work with a fine blend of physicality and intelligence. Remaining aware of his environment, he scans proficiently to keep tabs on his nearby markers so he’s prepared if they check short, burst in behind, run down the channels or rotate with a teammate.

Possessing fantastic speed and anticipation, Gabriel’s awake to depth runs and tracks his man closely, as they don’t often enjoy much separation to break free. If they do gain an edge, his pace ensures he can constantly recover his position. He’ll also regularly get his arms across them to impede them from hitting full pace and unbalancing them.

Fine job tracking the runner
Fine job tracking the runner

 

His swiftness helps him cover for a teammate to snuff out danger if a defensive comrade needs support or a runner from midfield needs stopping. Quick to adjust his feet and body shape from his powerful crouched over posture, this means he can change direction sharply and react to his opponent.

Great awareness and recovery speed to cover the runner and support his defensive partner Fonte
Great awareness and recovery speed to cover the runner and support his defensive partner Fonte

 

Smartly reading the play to jet across and pick up the midfield runner lost by Sanches
Smartly reading the play to jet across and pick up the midfield runner lost by Sanches

 

Getting across to support his fellow defenders and cut out the danger
Getting across to support his fellow defenders and cut out the danger

 

Meanwhile, when his marker drops deep, he responds sharply. Getting touch tight and following his adversary aggressively, opponents struggle to control smoothly, turn him or generally execute their actions cleanly due to his harrying. In addition, how he reads the game and adheres to other pressing triggers such as his man receiving in an open posture, plus if they’re about to receive a sloppy pass or a ball near the sidelines, amplifies his ability to force turnovers.

Tracking his marker as they drop deep towards the ball
Tracking his marker as they drop deep towards the ball

 

Getting touchtight as his man drops deep with his back to goal
Getting touchtight as his man drops deep with his back to goal

 

His judgement also transfers over to when he’s applying his challenges, for he shrewdly times his interventions. Coherent in choosing when to spring ahead to apply a tackle or interception, his decision making is usually on point. Composed and remaining level headed, it’s positive to see how he doesn’t need to chime in with many slide tackles, as his 0.4 attempted sliding tackles pg evidences, instead remaining on his feet to undertake his defensive duties.

 

Superbly timed tackle to stop the attack sharply
Superbly timed tackle to stop the attack sharply

 

Positionally sound to boot, how he identifies when to shift across, drop back, push up, alter his body to deal with crosses and keeps his defensive spacing with his partners is a big bonus. Indeed, his always improving relationship with his teammates is illustrated by the numbers, for Lille have the fourth best defensive record in Ligue 1 having only conceded 27 goals in 28 matches. In addition, some further statistics that punctuate their defensive strength come from how they concede the second fewest shots (8.52 per game) and have the second best passes per defensive action stats (9.31 pg) behind only PSG.

Standing at 190 cms, the powerful youngster competes manfully in aerial duels. Whether it be from crosses, goal kicks and set pieces, Gabriel picks up the ball’s trajectory sharply and times his leap admirably. Winning 65.7% of his headers, he certainly makes life tough for his adversaries in this area.

Brave and powerful header down to a teammate
Brave and powerful header down to a teammate

 

Switching the focus to his offensive exhibits, and the Brazilian’s very assured with the ball at his feet. Blessed with a wonderful left foot, this enables him to break the first line of opposition pressure slickly with his good aerial and ground passes. Capable of striking wicked switches of play to isolate his winger or fullback and playing measured through balls in behind, Gabriel’s an asset with these passes that can quickly hurt opponents.

 

Fantastic switch of play to his fullback
Fantastic switch of play to his fullback

 

Not afraid to attempt riskier line breaking passes on the floor, there’s been scenarios when a Lille attacker or midfielder has been found in key central attacking areas. Although not all of these passes come off, his ambition and intent has been encouraging.

Delving into some extra statistics, and his 5.56 interceptions pg, 3.16 clearances pg, 1.82 tackles won pg at 85.48%, 0.82 blocked shots pg, 44.92 completed passes pg at 86.6%, 6.18 passes completed into the final third pg at 67.8% and 3.96 accurate long balls pg amplify his multifaceted quality.

Growing with every passing match, it’s been fantastic to observe his development into an extremely complete defender, who crucially doesn’t commit many errors. With such a tremendous future ahead of him and so much time to keep improving, the highly coveted Gabriel looks set to be the next Lille sensation to leave the club after progressing impressively into an elite defender.

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