Gabriel Magalhães signs new contract as Arsenal look to tie down key players

Gabriel Magalhães has signed a new contract at Arsenal to 2027 in the first of what the Premier League leaders hope will be a sequence of fresh deals agreed with key players.

Terms were finalised on Friday in a meeting between Gabriel, his representatives and senior club staff at Arsenal’s training ground. The contract is seen as a reward for the progress the player, whose deal ran until 2025, has made since signing from Lille in September 2020.

The 24-year-old has been a cornerstone of Arsenal’s defensive improvement under Mikel Arteta and has formed a balanced, imposing partnership at centre-back with William Saliba this season. In 83 appearances across all competitions he has contributed nine goals and proved an athletic presence in both penalty areas. He has hopes of a call-up to Brazil’s World Cup squad next month and a first full cap.

Only Newcastle have a better defensive record than Arsenal this season and Arteta believes their solidity augurs well. “A winning team needs to have a spine of the team that is tremendously consistent and play at a really high level, keep clean sheets and we are doing that a lot,” he said.

Arteta hailed the solidity Gabriel and Saliba, who has made a huge impact since returning from a loan at Marseille, have added. “I think when we look at a central defender we look at partnerships,” he said. “I think Gabby has made William a better player and I think Willy helps Gabby to be the same. There is a strong chemistry there – you can sense it. The way they communicate with each other and play for each other, it is really positive and what you want.”

The pair have made isolated errors, including a slip from Gabriel that led to Darwin Núñez’s goal in the win over for Liverpool, but Arteta acknowledges that is part of the process. Saliba is 21 and nobody else in the leading pack has been leaning on such a young first-choice pairing.

“If you look at some of the goals we have conceded there have been some individual errors in some of them but they have been shared,” he said. “We have to accept that when you have young players in those positions, this is going to happen and that is the bill.”

Arsenal are also looking to tie down Saliba on a new deal, while discussions are continuing about updated contracts for Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli.

All four players should be fit to start at St Mary’s on Sunday, when Arsenal will look to maintain or extend their four-point lead over Manchester City by beating Southampton. Saka received a kick in Thursday’s win over PSV Eindhoven but it was not significant. His influence is growing despite a gruelling schedule in which he has started every game this season bar two, with the World Cup less than a month away. Arteta expanded on his post-match comments from the Europa League tie, when he explained that appearing every three days would help his side develop a “ruthless” streak.

“Obviously we want to protect our players and the way to protect our players is, when there is a risk of overload, don’t do it,” he said. “But to protect our players as well means they need to have the robustness to play those matches when it is necessary, because it’s going to be necessary and after the World Cup it’s going to be absolutely crazy, the amount of games we’re going to have.

“Robustness is in your mind. How much you want it, how tough you want to be with yourself, how pushy you want to be with yourself and what you do to get to that level.”