First, there were the rumours of interest from the Saudi vacuum cleaner, hoovering up players from hither and yon. Our own Gabriel Magalhães was almost caught up in it all, and Arteta may or may not have disciplined the Brazilian by omitting him from the XI. Alternately, Arteta may have just been experimenting with different lineups, and the exclusion of Magalhães may have just been a temporary symptom rather than a disease in and of itself. During this international break, Magalhães picked up a knock because that’s what international breaks are for. How serious it is? Let’s kick the tyres…Read more: Big Gabi’s been injured? FFS…
For one, Magalhães walked off the pitch on his own with Brazil winning 4-1 and was later seen icing his quadricep, so it seems like he may have cramped up or pulled a muscle. There’s a silver lining to this international break: having come up lame this early, Magalhães can now rest for the remainder. As the picture I chose to lead into this piece suggests, the Brazilian is already back in training. This is not—I repeat, this is not—Gabriel Jesus 2.0, whereby we lose a key player due to an injury incurred on international duty. From all outward appearances, Magalhães will be fit as a fiddle after a few days of icing and isometrics.
In an odd twist of events, this little knock is but a speedbump in a larger soap opera. Magalhães, despite being a rock-solid CB, has played just 114 minutes of the 360 minutes of our young season. This includes just four minutes against Nottingham Forest, 20 minutes against Palace, and zero minutes against Fulham. He played a full 90 against Man U in what was, perhaps by no coincidence, our best performance to date. Now that the transfer window has closed, it seems that Magalhães may have been restored to the XI, and his partnership with Saliba is back in full effect.
Was Arteta exiling Magalhães due to flirtations with the Saudi league? It’s possible. We’re left reading tea leaves over here. The Saudi league’s transfer window closed on 7 September. We played Man U on 3 September. This suggests that something else was afoot. If Magalhães’s exclusion from the squad was related to a possible transfer to Al-Ittihad or some other Saudi club, we wouldn’t have seen Magalhães playing a full 90 just a few days before. He’d have been rested in order to avoid an injury ahead of a potentially lucrative transfer away.
If the demotion had been disciplinary, we probably would have gotten wind of it by hook or by crook, for as tight a ship as Arteta steers. The absence of rumours is not in and of itself evidence of anything, for, again, we’re reading tea leaves.
Occam’s Razor suggests that the simplest solution is that Arteta was experimenting with tactics and formation against inferior opponents before restoring Magalhães to the XI against Man U.
This ostensibly innocous injury may not be put to the test for a few weeks, maybe not until the North London Derby two weeks hence. That’s surely enough time for a dead leg, muscle cramp, or strain to heal all by its pretty little self. For now, we can sleep a little more soundly knowing that one of our own won’t be subjected to any more trials or tribulations.