Arsene Wenger has revealed that Arsenal are in talks with Villarreal over the €20million signing of defender Gabriel Paulista.
Wenger was speaking in his press conference ahead of the weekends game against Brighton in the FA Cup 4th round. He even told press the amount Arsenal were going to pay for the Brazilian defender, odd:
“Talks are progressing quite well,” he said. “Can we find an agreement? I don’t know. We are slowly progressing and there is a chance.
“It is 20 million euros, which is 15 million pounds. We are ready to pay the price we think is right for a good player. If we think it is the right price, we will pay.”
After Wenger’s comments, the deal now becomes the most public he’s ever conducted. Villarreal’s managed has talked about the deal, as has the player and now maybe most surprisingly of all, Wenger has talked about it. It’s somewhat surprising considering any club could come in and pay his release clause of £15.25million. After Manchester United reportedly had a £27million bid turned down for Otamendi, you wouldn’t be surprised if they made an approach for Paulista. Wenger must be pretty confident of a deal being completed to talk about it like that.
Paulista is a centre-back for a Villarreal side that is unbeaten since November. Wenger has been impressed with his form over the last few months. Only Barcelona and Real Madrid have conceded fewer goals than Villarreal in La Liga this season, and Paulista has been central to that achievement.
An issue that may arise in this transfer would be work permit problems. Wenger seemed confused by the rules but confident of securing a permit for Paulista:
“First of all, I don’t understand the logic of this [work permit] rule, If the player we want needs a work permit, we will defend [try and get] it now. We don’t want to do it in the summer. We are short now and no matter what the rules are now, we have to do it.
“We don’t know [about the work permit]. We respect the rules in England. We go in front of a commission and they tell us, OK, yes or no. We accept that and respect that. Are the rules right or not? That can be discussed.
“The logic that the availability of the work permit is the amount of money you spend, that is not how it should be. It should be linked to the quality of the player. The amount of money you spend is not directly linked to the quality.
I concur, Arsene.
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.