Arsenal’s summer transfer activity has seen the club make a pair of Brazilian buys, the signings of Willian and Gabriel Magalhaes adding to a growing contingent of Samba stars at the Emirates.
Each impressed during their Premier League debuts for the Gunners against Fulham last weekend and will be hoping to make a major impact in the coming seasons, where they will be following in the footsteps of a host of Brazilians to have represented Arsenal.
Following their arrivals we’ve decided to look back at each of the club’s Brazilian players, here are the 11 Brazilians to have played for Arsenal in the Premier League era:
Sylvinho became the first Brazilian in history to play for Arsenal following his arrival from Corinthians in the late nineties, the flying full-back viewed as the long-term replacement for the ageing Nigel Winterburn.
The left-back was very much in the mould of the modern incumbents of the positions, bringing endless energy to the flank and contributing significantly in an attacking sense, memorably scoring a stunning late goal from distance against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
That Sylvinho swerve 💫#GoalOfTheDay @Arsenal pic.twitter.com/NFwK1piKZT
— Premier League (@premierleague) May 17, 2018
Despite impressing during his time in north London – including being named in the 2000/01 PFA Team of the Year – he spent just two seasons with the club before joining Celta Vigo amid issues with his passport, Arsenal safe in the knowledge that a young Ashley Cole was ready to step into the departed defender’s role.
Another signing from Corinthians, Edu signed as a replacement for Emmanuel Petit following the Frenchman’s transfer to Barcelona, with the midfielder tipped as a long-term mainstay of the Arsenal side.
The Brazil international was a fine player who offered class and assurance to the midfield, but he struggled to command an automatic starting position during four seasons with the Gunners amid injury problems and fierce competition.
He did, however, play his part in two title-winning sides and won the FA Cup on two occasions before leaving for Valencia, before returning to Arsenal as the club’s inaugural technical director last summer.
The gold standard when it comes to Brazilian buys for Arsenal, Gilberto Silva remains an understated and underrated member of the best Gunners side of the modern era.
Silva was a member of the Brazil squad that won the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea before heading to the Premier League, where he made an instant impact by scoring the winner on his debut against Liverpool in the Community Shield.
🇧🇷 @GilbertoSilva making all the difference #OnThisDay in 2002… pic.twitter.com/TsvHjfBkzf
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) August 11, 2020
He helped the club to FA Cup success during that debut season before starring as the anchor of the club’s famed Invincibles team, the defensive midfielder the sturdy safeguard of a side who prided themselves on spellbinding silky football.
Silva spent six seasons with the club and was an important figure during a transitional period post-Invincibles, making 244 appearances in all competitions and scoring 24 goals.
Arsene Wenger opted for the surprise signing of promising youngster Denilson as he sought to strengthen his midfield in 2006, the teenager arriving in north London after just a handful of first-team appearances for Sao Paulo.
The midfielder initially impressed during his opening campaigns at the Emirates and became a regular in the Arsenal side, his finest campaign seeing him make 51 appearances in all competitions throughout 2008/09 – more than any other Gunners teammate.
Injuries, and the emergence of Jack Wilshere, ultimately saw him fall out-of-favour and he left the club to return to Brazil in 2011, since enjoying a nomadic existence with spells at the likes of Sao Paulo, Al-Wahda and Cruzeiro.
The man nicknamed ‘The Beast’ had been chased by Arsenal for some time before finally arriving at the club on a season-long loan deal from Real Madrid, the barrel-chested Brazilian having starred for Sevilla before a difficult period at the Bernabeu.
He spent just a sole season with the Gunners and largely struggled to make an impact in the Premier League, scoring just three league goals, although he enjoyed a prolific run in cup competition, including that performance in a thrilling 6-3 win at Liverpool.
January 9, 2007: Liverpool 3-6 Arsenal
When The Beast bossed Anfield 😎@J_Baptista81 💪 pic.twitter.com/q8lUS1MPRp
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) January 9, 2019
Baptista went into full beast mode to score four goals on Merseyside during a classic League Cup encounter, before scoring twice over two-legs against north London rivals Tottenham in the semi-finals.
The powerful star returned to Spain having scored 10 goals in all competitions, Baptista showing brief moments of brilliance but failing to deliver on a consistent basis.
Andre Santos arrived at the club as part of a deadline day splurge that saw Per Mertesacker and current Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta arrive at the Emirates in 2011, though it is fair to say the Brazilian will never be held in quite the same esteem as his fellow arrivals.
Once heralded as the successor to Roberto Carlos for the national side, Santos spent two hugely forgettable years at Arsenal, his most notable contribution an ill-advised half-time shirt swap with former Gunners captain Robin van Persie at Manchester United.
One of a number of centre-back options who failed to eradicate Arsenal’s longstanding defensive issues, Gabriel Paulista impressed in flashes following his arrival from Villarreal but struggled to really establish himself.
The defender initially looked like a perfect signing for a club that had lacked competitive edge, the Brazilian possessing the look of a man you’d hate to cross in a dark alley, though the reality proved 64 appearances of rather mediocre showings.
Gabriel Martinelli arrived as the least heralded of Arsenal’s summer signings last season, but swiftly emerged as one of the best bargain buys following a breakthrough season.
The teenager scored 10 goals in all competitions and provided spark in an otherwise disappointing campaign for Arsenal, Martinelli a player with huge potential and one who will be hoping to bounce back after suffering a serious knee injury in June.
🏆 Goal of the Season – 2019/20
🥇 1st place | Gabriel Martinelli v Chelsea 😊 pic.twitter.com/Pw1s9pJhKf
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) August 18, 2020
Having hit the ground running since moving to English football, few will doubt the youngster can play a big role in Mikel Arteta’s rebuild at the Emirates.
Eyebrows were raised when Arsenal sought to strengthen their dismal defence with the signing of David Luiz last summer, a centre-back who – although talented – could never be described as consistently reliable.
The Brazilian’s debut season has further raised questions following a campaign of somewhat predictable brain-farts, becoming the first player in history to concede five penalties in a single season and being sent off on two occasions.
Luiz has been handed a new one-year deal and his extension is a testament to the player’s character and winning mentality, though Gunners’ fans will be hoping his on-field performances improve following an indifferent debut season.
Arsenal’s marquee addition of the window to date, the north London side beat off competition from a host of leading clubs to sign promising young defender Gabriel Magalhaes from Lille.
Mikel Arteta pursued a deal for the 22-year-old intently despite an abundance of centre-back options in his current first-team squad, an indication of the regard the Spaniard holds his latest acquisition.
The early signs were positive with a confident and assured debut display at Fulham, capped with a first goal in English football after powering home a header from Willian’s corner.
Gabriel appears to have all the attributes to thrive in the Premier League and Arsenal will be hopeful that they have found the long-term solution to their Achilles heel in central defence.
Willian arrived at Arsenal this summer after seven successful seasons at London rivals Chelsea, with the winger’s first performance suggesting he may prove one of the bargains of the summer.
Arsenal debut – ✅
What did you make of @WillianBorges88's first game? 🤩 pic.twitter.com/WR714DAFKC
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) September 14, 2020
The free transfer arrival had a hand in all three goals as the Gunners ran riot at Fulham, finishing the clash with two assists and integrating seamlessly into Mikel Arteta’s side.
The Brazil international will bring an injection of quality and experience into a transitional side, and could play a key role in the club’s bid to secure a top four finish this season.
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