Arsenal have decided to shelve a rumoured January move for Saint-Etienne captain Loic Perrin, instead turning their attention to a deal for Villareal's Brazilian star Gabriel Paulista.
The 24-year-old has been very impressive for the Yellow Submarines this season, an ever-present in La Liga and a key feature of a defence which ranks among the top five in Spain at this stage of the campaign.
L'Equipe reports that Arsenal would like the 6'1'' centre-back to give their defensive options a much-needed boost, but the proposed deal rests almost entirely on the Gunners' ability to get their new top transfer target a work permit.
Perrin out of the picture
Arsenal have changed their minds in the last 48 hours over which centre-back to target as Thomas Vermaelen's belated replacement, with Perrin perhaps just a touch to old at 29 to make the deal worthwhile.
Paulista is just 24 and has already proved himself capable of performing with distinction in one of Europe's top leagues, but it remains to be seen whether the Home Office would agree that it's enough to grant him permission to play in the Premier League.
Deal fraught with complications
The Gunners will run into problems because Paulista has never been capped by Brazil, and that's without attempting to agree terms on a transfer with Villareal.
Marcelino García Toral's side are currently sixth in La Liga and currently sit just three points off a Champions League place, which means they'll be even more desperate to keep their relatively small squad together until the end of the season.
Famously frugal Arsenal must table a sizeable offer to change their minds, or alternatively fall back on another cut-price option in West Ham United defender Winston Reid.
The Hammers stopper is out of contract at the end of the season and free to talk terms with interested clubs, although Arsenal need cover for Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny right now and can't really afford to wait until the summer.
Reid is widely thought to be available for a fee in the region of £3 million, but it looks like Wenger would prefer to sign a more long-term option in Paulista at this stage.
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