Villarreal head coach Marcelino has confirmed that negotiations between defender Gabriel Paulista and Arsenal are currently underway. The centre-back has been left out of the club’s lineup for today’s match against Levante, further fueling speculation that the 24-year-old Brazilian is about to switch from the La Liga side in order to sign with the Gunners.
When asked about the rumors circling around his star defender and a potential move to North London, Marcelino responded: “He’s a player who’s still wanted in the dressing room and remains very important to us. At the moment, he’s still part of the squad because we don’t know what will happen.”
“Everything points towards the negotiations going on one direction, but until then he’s still ours.”
On Thursday, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said his club were in talks with Villarreal over the £15 million-rated defender. At that time the Gunner boss said his chances of signing the centre-back were “50-50”. But it appears the North London club are moving closer to acquiring the raw, but very talented Brazilian defender.
The only hold-up in the transfer would be the fact that Paulista does not automatically meet the work permit criteria in the United Kingdom. The defender is not a citizen of the European Union and has yet to establish himself as a senior Brazil international.
Arsenal would have to convince a Football Association hearing that Paulista was an “exceptional talent” and should be granted permission to work in the UK.
That recommendation would then be passed on to the government department for a final ruling.
Paulista is second to Athletic Bilbao’s Aymeric Laporte for the most interceptions in La Liga this season. The centre-back has been the key figure in a Villarreal defense which has only conceded 17 goals in nineteen league games.
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