Arsenal defender Gabriel Magalhaes speaks of his admiration for Virgil van Dijk

Arsenal star Gabriel Magalhaes opened up on his admiration of Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk as he assessed his start to life in the Premier League.

Brazilian Gabriel joined the Gunners from Lille for £27million in the summer window and has quickly adapted to his new surroundings.

The defender marked his debut with a goal and a clean sheet in the 3-0 win at Fulham and has gone on to make six more appearances for Arsenal.

Gabriel started the 1-0 defeat to Manchester City a fortnight ago and starred as the Gunners knocked Liverpool out of the Carabao Cup on penalties at the start of the month.

Both matches had great significance to the 22-year-old, who found himself face to face with players he has idolised.

“It is a great league, with the best players in the world," Gabriel told ESPN Brasil . "One defender I admired a lot and was able to play against was Van Dijk.

"Also playing against Manchester City… we lost the game, but I was able to learn too.

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"When you play against big teams, you learn, you try to reap the best things you have done on the pitch.

“Then I was able to play against a player known worldwide, who is (Sergio) Aguero. Many defenders want to play against him to see what the style of play is like.

"And there are other players who we also intend to play against or even with them. As you said, I played against (Kylian) Mbappe, against Neymar.

"We learn every day, and every time we play against great players, we learn.”

Gabriel may line up against more of his idols as Arsenal travel to Manchester United on Sunday afternoon, with both sides looking to drag themselves out of the bottom half of the table.

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