“He’s Matured” – Rio Ferdinand Admits Arsenal Star Has Proved Him Wrong After Scathing Criticism

TNT Sports pundit Rio Ferdinand says he has been very impressed with how Arsenal defender Gabriel has improved over the last twelve months.

The former Manchester United star had previously criticised the Brazilian international for being “rash” but, speaking after the 0-0 draw against Manchester City at the weekend, he said:

“When I saw Declan [Rice] the other day and spoke to him, he was waxing lyrical and raving about Gabriel. I criticised him last season and I stand by that and rightly so. But he seems to have learned, he’s matured. He’s one of the most aggressive, but also controlled now and composed centre-halves in the league.”

“His partnership with [William] Saliba… if he was fit the back end of last season they might have won the league. His importance and stature within the team now is alongside Gabriel.”

Gabriel has been incredible since the start of the year

Some supporters may have forgotten that the 26-year-old did not start the season in the starting lineup. Manager Mikel Arteta opted to pick Ben White alongside William Saliba in the middle of the defence.

Gabriel had to work hard to get back in favour but, by the New Year, he had even started to outshine Saliba. He was clearly determined to improve his game.

Arsenal have the best centre-back pairing in the Premier League

While Saliba may have been given the Player of the Match award against Manchester City by Gary Neville, the Sky Sports pundit was keen to emphasise that Gabriel was not far behind him in terms of his performance level.

The pair managed to keep Erling Haaland quiet as well as maintain a clean sheet against a team that had not drawn a blank at home in over two years.

With the Gunners also having the top defensive record this season, there is no doubt that the London club currently have the best centre-back partnership in the English top-flight.

David Tully

David Tully

David has worked as a football reporter for the last fifteen years. Having started as an intern at Snack Media, he then went on to become a freelancer, working on various different sites. At the start of 2023, he took up his current role as content writer for National World's Football News Network.