Arsenal center-back Gabriel was very nearly lining up in Everton colors before he completed his switch to the Emirates in the summer of 2020 and has revealed the importance of Nicolas Pepe on his eventual decision to join the Ivorian in north London.
In an interview relayed by Le Petit Lillois (relayed by Sports Witness), the Brazilian defender revealed that he always knew he was going to leave the French side midway through the 2019/20 season, but it was Everton, not the Emirates, that was set to be his destination.
‘Lille are a great club, a club that sells a lot so I knew I had to show myself’, he recounted. ‘In the winter (of the 2019-2020 season) before the league stopped, I was already meant to sign for Everton. I underwent my medical, etc…’
However, something went wrong, derailing the Everton option and leaving Arsenal and Napoli to fight it between them for his signature. And in the end, it was Nicolas Pepe, who made the same switch the previous season, who sold the Arsenal dream to the Brazilian
‘But it didn’t get done. I had already envisioned myself leaving after that season. I spoke with Napoli, Everton once again, but I then chose Arsenal thanks to Nicolas Pépé, who sold the club well to me.’
How has he done?
While Pepe’s career in north London has not gone the way he would have wanted it to, Gabriel has gone from strength to strength and is now considered an integral part of Mikel Arteta’s back four.
Having formed a strong partnership with Ben White at the heart of the defense, keeping 11 clean sheets this season and popping up with three crucial goals too.
At 23 years old, he promises to be a defender Arsenal count on in the future, and one Everton continues to rue missing out on.