After being a mainstay in the Arsenal team last season, Mikel Arteta surprisingly chose to drop Gabriel for the first three Premier League games of the 2023/24 campaign.
Since then, Gabriel has started all but one of the Gunners’ last 20 games in the Premier League, while playing the full 90′ minutes in 19 of them. The Brazilian has come back fighting, and proved to Mikel Arteta why he’s so important to the Arsenal set-up.
Gabriel has now spoken on how it felt to be dropped at the beginning of the season, revealing Mikel Arteta explained to him why he should stay in North London:”It was tough, obviously at the start. I wanted to play and it was very difficult for me but I understood what the coach had to do.
“It is difficult for any player to not be in the team but now I’m back in I want to keep on working hard to prove my worth.
“Arteta spoke to me and obviously explained the reasons behind the decision. Why I should stay – but the most important thing was to remain focused and concentrate – he knew how important I was to the team, so I’m happy to be back and to be able to help the team in every game.
“I’m happy to be back in the team and hopefully I can help them moving forward.”
The Arsenal centre-back was subject to a huge offer from Saudi Arabia, with the club rejecting a £170million offer for the player last summer. Gabriel also had interest from Real Madrid and PSG, however Mikel Arteta convinced him to stay at the club after explaining how important he was to the team.
Gabriel’s performances haven’t gone unnoticed within and outside the club. The Brazilian centre-back has most recently been nominated for the Premier League player of the month for January following his top displays against Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest.
The 26-year-old defender scored two goals and kept a clean sheet against Crystal Palace which has put him up for the award for the first time in his Premier League career.
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Gabriel on finally receiving the recognition he deserves: “I’m very happy to be up for player of the month. Of course I always work hard every day to try to do my best on the pitch and realise my potential.
“The most important thing is the people around me who know my potential, and in terms of those outside – and if people devalue me, I’m happy for them if I change their mind.”
Mikel Arteta mentioned in his press conference on Friday how Gabriel had changed things in his personal life to help improve his mentality heading into this season: “He also changed a lot of things in his life and improved his mentality. He can decide what he wants to be and I think he made the right call to take the direction he took.”
Gabriel is now one of Mikel Arteta’s most trusted players. Within such a young squad, the 26-year-old is one of the leaders in the Arsenal dressing room with William Saliba benefitting massively from the Brazilian’s game.