Gabriel: Manchester United hold late talks over Arsenal and Napoli target

Arsenal remain clear favourites to sign Lille centre-back, who is also of interest to Paris Saint-Germain

Gabriel dos Santos Magalhaes of Lille during the match between Lille v Reims at the Stade Paul Debresie on July 13, 2019 in Saint-Quentin France

Manchester United have held discussions with Gabriel's representatives, in a late twist to his expected exit from Lille.

Arsenal remain clear favourites to win the race for the 22-year-old Brazilian ahead of Napoli, despite the Italian club making a late and improved offer to the player.

As Sky Sports News reported last month, Manchester United have been monitoring the situation. However, it is understood their interest in the player is unlikely to go any further.

Although in the market for a new centre-half, preferably on the left of a pair, and having worked towards two other targets, Manchester United have not made a bid or held discussions with Gabriel himself.

Gabriel completed the most passes into the opposition half in Ligue 1 last season - ranking second for forward passes and 16th for winning aerial duels
Image: Gabriel completed the most passes into the opposition half in Ligue 1 last season - ranking second for forward passes and 16th for winning aerial duels

But it remains likely the player will come to the Premier League this summer in a deal worth £27m, whether that is London or Manchester.

Gabriel was a key member of the Lille side that finished fourth in Ligue 1 last season, also starting all of their Champions League games - and he undertook a medical with Everton ahead of the coronavirus lockdown.

And since, the Merseysiders involvement has diminished.

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Arsenal have been keen to sign Gabriel to boost their centre-back options this summer, adding to the arrival of youngster William Saliba, who was signed from St Etienne for £27m last summer and loaned back.

In June, David Luiz signed a new one-year contract at Arsenal, while Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares have also made their loan moves permanent from Flamengo and Southampton respectively.

In addition to the deals for Mari and Soares, Arsenal have also signed Brazilian winger Willian. The 32-year-old signed a three-year deal with Arsenal following the expiration of his contract with Chelsea.

Who is Gabriel Magalhaes?

Gabriel has attracted interest from a host of European clubs this summer
Image: Gabriel has attracted interest from a host of European clubs this summer

Sky Sports' Nick Grounds takes a closer look at the defender:

Gabriel started his career at Avai, a side who currently play in the second tier of Brazilian football.

After 21 appearances, he made the move to Europe in January 2017, signing for Ligue 1 side Lille for a fairly modest fee of £1.5m.

Gabriel initially struggled to adapt to senior football at Lille and went out on loan twice. First to Troyes, where he spent the first half of the 2017/18 season, before a temporary move to Dynamo Zagreb in January 2018.

First-team opportunities continued to evade him, moving between the reserve and senior sides before returning to Lille for the start of the 2018/19 season.

Gabriel took his time to cement himself in the side, not starting a Ligue 1 game until February 2019. But he has not looked back since; forging a relatively successful partnership with former Southampton player Jose Fonte at centre-back.

Gabriel Magalhaes

After a seven-year absence, Gabriel helped Lille qualify for the Champions League in 2018/19, finishing second in Ligue 1 to PSG.

Gabriel has continued his ascent this season, with a string of impressive performances both domestically and in the Champions League.

This graphic shows Gabriel's distribution in the Champions League this season, revealing the majority of his passes are played just inside his own half down the left flank and directed upfield
Image: This graphic shows Gabriel's distribution in the Champions League this season, revealing the majority of his passes are played just inside his own half down the left flank and directed upfield

Lille president: Gabriel a real fighter

Gabriel Lille
Image: Lille president Gerard Lopez says Gabriel is "a real fighter"

Lille president Gerard Lopez spoke to Sky Sports News about Gabriel's move before it was formally agreed, and said the Brazilian is "at the start of something big" in his career.

"He is a great kid and that is one of the most important things," Lopez said. "He didn't have an easy start with us given the fact that the coach at the time didn't trust him because of his age.

"He is a real fighter and has immense physical presence but knows how to use it smartly. He is still raw and I know the Brazil national team are looking at him very seriously for the A-team.

"I think he is at the start of something big, and he does everything to succeed."

Centre-back Gabriel can cover a rampaging left-back, with the majority of his defensive actions made down that flank, while also clearing things up in his own penalty box
Image: Centre-back Gabriel can cover a rampaging left-back, with the majority of his defensive actions made down that flank, while also clearing things up in his own penalty box

What else have Arsenal got planned?

Sky Sports News' Dharmesh Sheth gives his insight on some of the other deals Arsenal have planned this summer:

Following the arrivals of Willian, Gabriel, Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares at the Emirates Stadium, it's understood Dani Ceballos signing on loan for Arsenal again next season remains a possibility.

Talks are ongoing between the Gunners and his parent club Real Madrid over securing another loan deal for the midfielder, with Ceballos believed to be keen on staying at Arsenal.

Ceballos is expected to link up with Zinedine Zidane's side for pre-season training, ahead of the 2020/21 La Liga campaign, while negotiations continue.

He is under contract at Real Madrid until 2023, and has featured in 56 games for the club since his arrival at the Bernabeu from Real Betis in 2017.

Mesut Ozil has previously indicated he is staying at Arsenal for the remainder of his contract but it is clear he is not in Arteta's plans.

Ideally, Arsenal would like to offload the former Germany international to get his huge wages off the payroll but that is easier said than done. Ozil has entered the final year of his contract and appears happy to see it out.

The 31-year-old has not played a single minute for the Gunners since the Premier League restarted, the club have maintained that he has been absent from matches with a back injury.

An agreement is close between Arsenal and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang over a new three-year contract for the Gabon international.

The player sent out a cryptic tweet of an hourglass emoji as the forward is close to ending speculation about his future with his current contract set to expire at the end of the season.

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