Arsenal transfer news: Arsene Wenger rates Gabriel Paulista chances as '50-50' and reveals work permit issues will be resolved 'now'

Arsenal manager reveals the Gunners are in talks to sign the Villarreal defender and confirms a new deal has been offered to Francis Coquelin

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The Independent Football

Arsene Wenger said today that he believed the chances of success in Arsenal’s £15m bid to sign Brazilian defender Gabriel Paulista from Villarreal was "50-50".

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The defender is Arsenal’s No 1 target in this January transfer window, although Wenger did not rule out another signing. The 17-year-old Krystian Bielik, signed from Legia Warsaw this month, is not available for first team action yet and is short of fitness according to Wenger, having not played through the winter break in Poland.

On Paulista, Wenger said, the chances of success were “50-50 at this moment”. He said: “We are talking. [The price is] €20m, or £15m. We are ready to pay the price for good payers. If we think its the right price we will pay it.” The Brazilian is uncapped at senior international level and therefore does not qualify automatically for a Home Office work permit which requires non-EU players to have played 75% of internationals in the last two years.

 

The likelihood is that Paulista will be waved through on appeal, a process that the Football Association chairman Greg Dyke considers “a bit of a farce” and is trying to reform this summer.

Wenger said that the work permit was “trickier”. “First of all I don’t really understand the logic of the rule. Secondly, we want the player. If the player we want needs a work permit we will [pursue] it now. We don’t want to do it in the summer. No matter what the rules are, we will do it now.”

The FA wants to end the appeal process on work permits this summer. Instead it will change the work permit requirement to an individual having played 30 per cent of international games at a top 50 Fifa-ranked nation. There would also be an exemption for any players costing more than £10m.

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Arsenal signed Krystian Bilelik for £2.5m on Wednesday

Wenger said: “The logic that the availability of the work permit is linked with the amount of money you spend … it should be linked with the quality of the player only. The money [paid in a transfer fee] is linked to the availability of the player and your [the buying club’s] financial potential as well.

“The 75 per cent rule can of course be questioned because it’s much more difficult to play 75 per cent of the games for Brazil than for Luxembourg. It is difficult to make a rule that suits everyone. We respect the rules in England. When you buy a player who does not fulfil the criteria we go in front of a commission and they tell us ‘yes’ or ‘no’. We will accept that. We have to accept the rules of the country.

“Are the rules right or not? That can be discussed. At the moment you have to go in front of a committee.”

Wenger said that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Hector Bellerin were both fitness doubts for Sunday’s FA Cup fourth round tie away at Brighton. Bellerin, who has an ankle problem, had the better chance of playing. Serge Gnabry is back in first team training but is not in contention. Danny Welbeck is still not back in training.

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Francis Coquelin has been offered a new contract

The Arsenal manager confirmed that the club have offered Francis Coquelin, out of contract in the summer, a new deal. “I am confident it will be done,” Wenger said.

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