The Brazilian was inundated with offers following an impressive campaign with Lille. The likes of Chelsea were credited with an interest in his services, while he appeared destined to sign for Napoli at one point during the close season.
Arsenal, however, pipped their Serie A counterparts after agreeing a £27million fee with Lille and the 22-year-old has been an instant hit. Gabriel scored on his debut in the opening day win over Fulham and has hardly put a foot wrong since, winning the club’s player of the month award twice already.
Mikel Arteta’s rebuilding job might still be in its infancy, but Gabriel, when asked about signing for the Gunners, revealed he didn’t have a second’s hesitation.
He said: ‘I was trying not to hear too much about transfer speculation because you always end up thinking about everything that’s going on.
‘After Arsenal came into the equation, he told me about other clubs that were interested, but I chose Arsenal because it was a dream for me. It’s a club that I really like and always watched on TV, with fantastic history.
‘Arsenal is a huge club, one of the biggest in the world, and I told my agent from the start that if Arsenal came in for me, I wanted to wear the shirt, play at the stadium and feel the fans’ support because it’s a club I’ve always watched.
‘I’m now very pleased to be here today alongside top players. It’s a childhood dream of mine.’
Gabriel endured something of a nomadic career before his move to Lille , but he believes his experiences at the likes of Dynamo Zagreb have been vital to his development.
‘When I was young at Avai [his first club in Brazil], I faced many difficulties, but I never stopped dreaming and never let my head drop. I kept moving forward with the support of my family and friends,’ Gabriel added.
‘It was very hard at the start when I arrived at Lille [in 2016] because I was in a city where I didn’t speak the language and was very young, so it was tough. I learnt so much there.
‘After my loans at Troyes and Dinamo Zagreb, I really matured. When I went back to Lille, I was more mature and was more familiar with Europe and the style of play. When I started playing, thank God I was able to do so regularly and put in good performances, helping Lille reach the Champions League. That was very fulfilling for me.’