Arsenal are set to sign highly-rated Villarreal defender Gabriel Paulista for €20 million after offering to triple the player’s wages.
This is according to Spanish newspaper AS, who cite 'El Larguero’ - a programme on the popular radio station Cadena SER - as reporting that the player will put pen-to-paper on a contract later today.
Arsenal will reportedly sign the Manchester United target after triggering the 24-year-old centre-back’s release clause with a €20 million bid - and Villarreal boss Marcelino has admitted the club are resigned to losing the Brazilian defender.
Marcelino resigned to losing Gabriel
"I have assumed the status of Gabriel: it's bad news from a sporting point of view,” he told El Larguero. “if both Gabriel and the club believe that a sale to Arsenal is what’s best for everyone, we accept it.”
Spanish football expert Guillem Balague revealed this week that both Arsenal and Manchester United had an opportunity to sign the defender this month - but only by submitting a €20 million offer. Villarreal were not prepared to negotiate.
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Gabriel's eye-catching form
And that’s understandable when you consider Villarreal’s form with Gabriel in their back-line this season. The Yellow Submarine have not lost a match in any competition since their 3-2 defeat to FC Zurich in the Europa League on November 6 - a run which now stretches 15 games - and the South American has played an instrumental role in the team’s recent run of good form.
Villarreal signed Gabriel from Brazilian outfit Vitoria in 2013 for €3 million - and while they will be disappointed to see the player leave El Madrigal, such a huge sum of cash for a club of Villarreal’s stature promises to benefit them in the long run.
Marcelino’s side are currently sixth in the La Liga table and not in any realistic danger of being dragged into the relegation mire between now and the end of the season.
Wenger to drop Mertesacker?
As for Arsenal, manager Arsene Wenger must now decide how Gabriel fits into his plans. Per Mertesacker’s form has been patchy this season and the German World Cup winner could be the man who loses his place in the Gunners’ starting line-up.
Arsenal fans: what would be your first-choice back-four with Gabriel in the squad? Tell us in the comments below.