Belfast Telegraph

Arsenal working on Gabriel deal

Arsenal are expected to press ahead with their interest in Villarreal centre-back Gabriel Paulista following the completion of a deal for teenage midfielder Krystian Bielik from Legia Warsaw.

However, the Gunners are likely to have to overcome a work permit hearing before the uncapped Brazilian would be allowed to play in England.

Poland youth international Bielik, who can play in midfield or defence, is expected to work initially within the Gunners' Under-21s side, with a view to a swift progression of the 17-year-old prospect through to the senior squad.

Arsenal confirmed the transfer from Legia Warsaw for an undisclosed fee of Bielik, who also had talks with German club Hamburg and is understood to have cost around £2.5million.

Any move to bring in Gabriel ahead of the transfer deadline, however, is unlikely to prove so straightforward.

Press Association Sport understands Arsenal are interested in brokering a deal, but negotiations are at a very early stage.

Villarreal want to see the 20million euros (£15.25m) release clause activated, with manager Marcelino admitting earlier this week that might prove "impossible to turn down". Arsenal, though, are said to be offering in the region of £10m, which would be following add-ons to an initial down payment.

Speaking on the El Larguero show on Spanish radio network Cadena SER, Marcelino said: "I hadn't considered selling Gabriel, it's bad news from a sporting point of view. If both Gabriel and the club believe that his sale to Arsenal is the best for all parties, we will accept."

While terms could be swiftly wrapped up, clearing government red tape at the Home Office could potentially scupper any proposed transfer.

As Gabriel is not a European Union citizen and has yet to establish himself as a senior Brazil international, he would not meet the automatic work permit criteria.

Arsenal, therefore, would need to convince a Football Association hearing, which is run on behalf of the Home Office, that the player was an "exceptional talent" and so should be granted permission to work in the United Kingdom. That recommendation is then passed onto the government department for a final ruling.

There are no guarantees such a procedure would have a positive outcome.

Costa Rica forward Joel Campbell was sent out on loan three times - to Lorient, Real Betis and then Olympiacos - as he awaited international clearance on a 2010 transfer from Saprissa before returning to join the Gunners squad at the start of the season.

Coincidentally, the 22-year-old could end up being part of a makeweight deal for Gabriel, although with Wenger having already allowed Lukas Podolski to move to Inter Milan and Yaya Sanogo loaned to Crystal Palace, the Gunners are not keen to further deplete their attacking options.

In defence, Arsenal have also considered St Etienne captain Loic Perrin, but Press Association Sport understands there will not be an imminent move for West Ham's Winston Reid, who is out of contract in the summer.

Arsenal won 2-0 at Manchester City on Sunday to close back up on the top four of the Premier League.

The FA Cup holders will travel to Brighton for a fourth-round tie on Sunday, where the likes of Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil could both start following injuries.

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