The Lille centre back Gabriel Magalhães has agreed to join Arsenal and will fly to London on Monday to complete a move worth up to €30 million.
Arsenal had been confident of securing Gabriel's signature after seeing the Ligue 1 side accept their bid last week. Other clubs had been circling, with Napoli showing firm interest while Manchester United and Manchester City monitored the situation, but talks on Saturday brought a decisive breakthrough and Gabriel will sign a five-year deal early this week.
It is Arsenal’s second deal with Lille in consecutive summers, last year’s purchase seeing the forward Nicolas Pépé arrive for a club-record €79 million.
Gabriel is a 22-year-old defender who joined Lille from the Brazilian club Avai in 2017. After spell on loan at Troyes and Dinamo Zagreb he enjoyed an excellent season in 2019-20, albeit truncated due to Covid-19, and became Arsenal's top defensive target. He will join William Saliba, the 19-year-old who has returned from his loan back to Saint-Etienne, at the Emirates next season as Mikel Arteta looks to revamp a notoriously unreliable back line.
Arteta still wants to add a midfielder and a forward to Arsenal's ranks, while he would like Dani Ceballos to join on at least an extra year's loan from Real Madrid. But Arsenal may have to move players on in order to strengthen further.
When Gabriel's arrival is confirmed, an already swollen set of centre back options will reach bursting point with Saliba, David Luiz, Pablo Marí, Shkodran Mustafi, Rob Holding and Sokratis Papastathopoulos all considered first-team players when fit. The latter three all look vulnerable, while Ainsley Maitland-Niles and out-of-favour Matteo Guendouzi are among particularly tradable fringe options in other areas.
The addition of Gabriel will continue an expensive pre-season for Arsenal, who recently completed the signing of Willian and are likely to confirm that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has signed a new contract in the near future. Earlier this month the club proposed 55 redundancies in non-football areas due to drops in revenue associated with Covid-19. – Guardian