Premier League-linked Lille star Gabriel Magalhaes has today revealed that he was a huge admirer of Frank Lampard, during the Chelsea boss’ playing days.
Gabriel, a 22-year-old central-defender, has established himself as one of European football’s most highly-regarded young stoppers over the last couple of seasons.
On the back of a series of loan spells away from Lille, the Brazilian was finally handed the chance to impress as part of the first-team setup at the Stade Pierre Mauroy last season.
And this is an opportunity which Gabriel has since gone on to grasp with both hands, as the gifted stopper’s standout showings at the heart of Lille’s backline over the second-half of the campaign eventually resulted in his permanent introduction to Christophe Galtier’s starting XI from the get-go in 2019/20.
Before the season was curtailed by the COVID-19 outbreak, Gabriel had earned starts in 23 of his side’s 28 Ligue 1 outings, along with all 6 of Les Dogues’ Champions League fixtures.
The South American’s impressive displays throughout the campaign, though, have not gone at all unnoticed across Europe.
Recent months have seen a host of clubs, chiefly in the Premier League, named as suitors of Gabriel, with those in England evidently of the opinion that the 22-year-old’s physical attributes would translate well to the all action style of play in the country.
Everton, to this point, have been the side by far most persistently-linked with a swoop for Gabriel, with reports having suggested that the Toffees, despite the financial uncertainty brought about by the COVID-19 crisis, remain ‘confident’ of getting a deal over the line.
‘A great player’
Another outfit to have been named as a potential landing spot for Lille’s star stopper of late, as showcased above, have been Chelsea.
The Blues are thought to be on the lookout for reinforcements at centre-half this summer, with Gabriel one of a number of players under consideration.
As such, speaking during an interview with Brazilian outlet UOL earlier today, the 22-year-old was drawn on the prospect of playing under Frank Lampard at Stamford Bridge.
And, though Gabriel was keen to play down the speculation surrounding his future, he also admitted that he was a huge admirer of Lampard during the now-Chelsea boss’ playing days:
‘He was a great player without a doubt. He is one of those players that I admired on the small screen.’
‘But we have to be calm with all this. It is early and I renewed my contract with Lille until 2023.’
‘The focus now is to return to play and end the season at a high level, and qualifying Lille for the 2020-21 Champions League.’
When drawn on the media frenzy surrounding his name at present, Gabriel continued:
‘I follow it, but I try to stay apart from it. I always tell my managers that, at this moment, I want to know as little as possible so as not to lose focus on the pitch.’
‘I am happy to see my name being linked with great teams. It shows that the work I’ve done so far has been good.’
‘I also see many fans of the two teams (Everton and Chelsea) commenting on my posts on Instagram. It’s funny.’