Reports emerging from Spain early on Wednesday morning suggested that Arsenal had agreed a €20million deal to take Villarreal centre-back Gabriel Paulista to The Emirates.
Paulista is a 24-year-old centre back who has impressed in La Liga this season. His style of play has seen him draw comparisons to Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny.
Earlier today The Telegraph suggested that Villarreal were holding out for their valuation of £15.25million (his release clause) to be met, but Arsenal were offering closer to £10million. Reports from Spain now seem to suggest that Arsenal have agreed to pay the release clause, and will now work on securing a work permit for the player.
Jose Ramon De La Morena (El Larguero – CADENA SER) has just confirmed that tomorrow Gabriel Paulista is going to Arsenal for €20m (Reliable)
— Spanish Gooner (@ElSpanishGooner) January 21, 2015
Arsene Wenger has been impressed with Paulista’s form over the last few months. Only Barcelona and Real Madrid have conceded fewer goals than Villarreal this season, and Paulista has been central to that achievement.
Manchester United’s interest in the Brazilian defender may have forced Wenger’s hand, after United saw a £27million bid for Nicolas Otamendi rejected earlier this week.
Paulista has already confirmed Arsenal’s interest in him. He told press last week: “Whether I go to Arsenal or stay at Villarreal, I won’t lose my head. I’m very calm. My head is at Villarreal and I’m very focused. My agent is working on making sure I continue being calm.” Gabriel said.
Villareal’s manager, Marcelino also appeared to confirm a deal was close on Tuesday: “If both Gabriel and the club believe that sale to Arsenal is what [is] best for everyone, we accept it.”
If a deal is completed, you would expect Paulista to battle with Per Mertesacker for a starting spot in Arsenal’s team. He would be eligible to play in the Champions League having not competed in Europe with Villarreal this season.