Arsenal’s pursuit of Gabriel Magalhaes should become clearer this week with the north London club expecting a decision on the defender’s future.
Mikel Arteta has been determined to bring in another centre-back this summer to coincide with the arrival of William Saliba, who is now in pre-season training having completed his season-long loan spell with Saint-Etienne.
The Gunners have been keeping tabs on a number of targets in recent months, including Malang Sarr - who is now a free agent having left Nice - and Axel Disasi, who has recently completed a move from Stade de Reims to Monaco.
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But their interest has been focused on Gabriel of late and discussions with Lille have now reached a stage when a decision is imminent over the future of the 22-year-old.
The Ligue 1 club have long accepted that Gabriel will be leaving this summer and made it clear to all interested clubs, including Arsenal, what it will take for them to land the £25 million ($28m) rated defender.
Arsenal and Napoli are now leading the chase for the Brazilian and a final decision is expected in the coming days.
Speaking to Sky Sports News on Sunday, Lille president Gerard Lopez said: “We spoke to a number of clubs, our expectations were met by a number of clubs and we have given him [Gabriel] the time to decide.
“It is going to be entirely his decision. We tend to try and steer our players in certain directions, but at the end of the day it’s the player’s decision.
“I know he is going to make a decision early next week.
“He is a super guy and a great football player and he wants to play, there has been a lot of interest but we have clearly decided to close the door to further clubs at this stage and let him choose.”
Manchester United have been keeping tabs on Gabriel’s situation, as have Everton - who were one of the clubs who met Lille’s demands for the defender. It is now believed, however, they have accepted that the centre-back will not be moving to Merseyside.
Arsenal, who completed the signing of Willian on a free transfer last week, are confident that the departure of Raul Sanllehi will not have any impact on their pursuit of the in-demand defender.
The club’s former head of football has a good relationship with the Lille hierarchy and had been driving the negotiations. But director of football operations Huss Fahmy has also been involved and will lead the discussions going forward, both with Lille and Gabriel, should the Gunners be given permission to speak to the Brazil Under-20 international.
There have been reports in Italy that Gabriel has already chosen Arsenal as his next destination, but sources close to the deal have told Goal that is not the case and that a final decision has yet to be taken.
Meanwhile, Arsenal are hoping to soon announce that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has signed a new contract with the club.
The Gunners skipper is currently away on holiday but will return to England this week ahead of pre-season training, which gets underway at London Colney on August 22.
An agreement over a new deal is understood to have been reached, with Aubameyang even teasing an imminent announcement on social media.
The 31-year-old is expected to see his wages rise to around £250,000-a-week.