Arsenal linked with January move for Villarreal defender

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Arsenal have reportedly identified Brazilian defender Gabriel Paulista as a potential January acquisition from Villarreal.

According to a report from L’Equipe, the 24-year-old has been singled out as an alternative to previous target Loic Perrin.

The Gunners were believed to be keen on completing a deal for the St Etienne stopper but with

Perrin thought to be set on remaining with Les Verts, having spent the entirety of his career with the club, a deal now looks unlikely.

And the French publication now believes Arsenal are tracking Gabriel ahead of a potential January move for the Villarreal star, who has impressed for the Yellow Submarine in La Liga so far this term.

The Spanish club are currently sixth in the standings and just three points off a Champions League qualification place following a fine start to the season.

Recruited from Esporte Clube Vitória in his native Brazil, Gabriel won the Campeonato Baiano or Bahia state football championship twice at the club.

He was also named best central defender in the championship in 2012 and once again in 2013.

Recruited from the lowly Brazilian club for just £880,000 by Villarreal two seasons ago, the defender has made 31 appearances for the Spanish side ever since.

Capable of playing in either a central role or as a full-back on either flank, Gabriel possesses the necessary flexibility to fit in well at the Emirates with Arsenal suffering a spate of injuries over the season so far.

The Brazilian is not the only La Liga star being linked with a move to the north London club, with the Gunners also the favourites at 7/2 with Ladbrokes to sign Isco from Real Madrid.

But with a transfer fee of £64m being mentioned in some quarters, a move for the more moderately priced Gabriel could prove the more likely of the two rumours.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Jack Beresford

Jack Beresford is a content writer with over five years of experience in writing about sport and betting, including a two-year spell with Axonn Media. Contributes articles to HereIsTheCity and Lad Bible, while previous credits include Bwin, FTB Pro, Bleacher Report and the QBE rugby. Avid follower of tennis, rugby union, motorsport and football, Jack also writes about poker for Cardspiel.com alongside Guardian journalist Dominic Wells.