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Arsenal close in on £22m Gabriel Magalhaes - but face competition for his signature

Gabriel Magalhaes
(Image credit: PA)

Arsenal are edging closer to their second signing of the summer, with Mikel Arteta hopeful of the club sealing a deal for Lille defender Gabriel Magalhaes.

Gabriel has impressed for Lille in recent months, with Arsenal hoping to add him to a defence that will also include fellow Ligue 1 star William Saliba. With Pablo Mari recruited from Flamengo in January, Arteta seems keen on revamping a defence that has looked shaky for a number of years. 

Gunners chiefs have apparently agreed a £22m fee with the French club for Gabriel, though Everton and Napoli are reportedly keen on the Brazilian too - and could trump Arsenal on personal terms. 

Should he move to North London, Gabriel would join a squad that already includes David Luiz, Shkodran Mustafi, Calum Chambers, Rob Holding, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Mari and Saliba as options in central defence. Left-backs Kieran Tierney and Sead Kolasinac have also be utilised on the left-hand side of a back three by Arteta, too.

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With the Arsenal boss having only moved to a back three after unconvincing defensive performances against Manchester City and Brighton & Hove Albion, it's not certain whether the 3-4-3 is here to stay, but it's expected that with so many defenders at the club, there could be a number of departures from the Emirates Stadium in the next few weeks. 

Sokratis has been offered up to Napoli - perhaps in the hope that they could drop their interest in Gabriel - while Roma may look to the Greek after Chris Smalling returned to Manchester United on loan. United, too, have been interested in Gabriel, - Arsenal will be hoping that the Red Devils don't get involved with discussions, given their ability to offer higher wages for the Brazilian's services. Rob Holding, Calum Chambers and Shkodran Mustafi are also names that Arteta could want to move on.

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The targeting of Gabriel marks an interesting milestone for Arsenal, who are in flux behind the scenes. 

The 22-year-old was the last major target identified by famed scout Francis Cagigao, the man who discovered Cesc Fabregas and Gabriel Martinelli for the Gunners. In the 55-person redundancy list that the club released recently, it was rumoured that Cagigao was one of the highest-profile casualties, as the club continued to move away from scouting and towards a more contact-led approach, fronted by charismatic head of football, Raul Sanllehi. 

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In the last week, however, Sanllehi has also left the club, leaving Mikel Arteta and director Edu with increased roles in transfer negotiations. With Edu, Arteta and negotiator Huss Fahmy picking up the baton on this one, the new team will be hoping to prove their worth immediately to secure Gabriel's services.

Arsenal also have 14 players on contracts shorter than two years. This summer might be about tying a few more down, as much as it is about bringing new blood into the side. 

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