Gabriel Paulista granted work permit: Defender set to join Arsenal in £11.2m deal

The 24-year-old spent Monday having a medical at Arsenal’s London Colney training centre

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The Independent Football

Arsenal hope to announce the signing of £11.2m defender Gabriel Paulista from Villarreal on Tuesday. The Brazilian, who can play centre-back or full-back, has been granted a work permit despite never having been capped by his country at any level.

Gabriel could not have received an automatic work permit but Arsenal have successfully appealed through the Football Association’s “exceptional talent” guidelines. Under these, Arsenal have demonstrated that Gabriel is sufficiently good that he would positively contribute to football in England.

The 24-year-old spent Monday having a medical at Arsenal’s London Colney training centre and his arrival should be officially confirmed on Tuesday. He will give Arsenal extra options in defence where they have been relying on just two senior specialist centre-backs – Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny – all season. Mathieu Debuchy, Calum Chambers and Nacho Monreal have all had to fill in there – Monreal did so at Brighton on Sunday – but Debuchy is currently out until April after shoulder surgery.


After the arrival of 17-year-old midfielder Krystian Bielik from Legia Warsaw, Gabriel is their second signing of the January transfer window. Costa Rica forward Joel Campbell, who has started just three games for Arsenal this season, is likely to head to Villarreal on loan for the rest of the season as part of the deal.

Another Arsenal striker, Chuba Akpom, will stay at the club for the rest of the season although the 19-year-old’s long-term future remains unclear. His Arsenal contract expires at the end of the season, and while the club have offered him a three-year deal to stay, Akpom is still considering whether or not to sign. He played 20 minutes as a substitute on Sunday – his longest first-team appearance this season – but has yet to start a game and is seeking guarantees on his future opportunities before he commits.

With just six months left at Arsenal, he is free to sign a pre-contract agreement with foreign clubs and has been offered deals by  Feyenoord, FC Twente and Borussia Dortmund. There is also interest from top  Premier League sides, although they would have to pay Arsenal compensation if he joined them. Akpom is not expected to make a decision until next month.