Arsenal ‘still in contention’ to sign Lille’s Gabriel as David Luiz to Benfica rumours ramp up

The latest word stemming from the media suggests that Arsenal remain firmly in the hunt for the signature of in-demand Lille star Gabriel Magalhaes.

Lille standout

Gabriel, a 22-year-old central-defender, has established himself as one of European football’s most highly-regarded young stoppers over the last couple of seasons.

On the back of a series of loan spells away from Lille, the Brazilian was finally handed the chance to impress as part of the first-team setup at the Stade Pierre Mauroy last season.

And this is an opportunity which Gabriel has since gone on to grasp with both hands.

The gifted stopper’s standout showings at the heart of Lille’s backline over the second-half of the campaign eventually resulted in his permanent introduction to Christophe Galtier’s starting XI from the get-go in 2019/20.

Before the season was curtailed by the COVID-19 outbreak, Gabriel had earned starts in 23 of his side’s 28 Ligue 1 outings, along with all 6 of Les Dogues’ Champions League fixtures.

Everton links

The South American’s impressive displays throughout the campaign, though, have not gone at all unnoticed across Europe.

Recent months have seen a host of clubs, chiefly in the Premier League, named as suitors of Gabriel, with those in England evidently of the opinion that the 22-year-old’s physical attributes would translate well to the all action style of play in the country.

Everton, to this point, have been the side most persistently-linked with a swoop for Gabriel, with reports last month having suggested that the Toffees, despite the financial uncertainty brought about by the COVID-19 crisis, remain ‘confident’ of getting a deal over the line.

Arsenal continue pursuit

Chelsea and Napoli, meanwhile, have also been tipped to swoop for the Lille star, with the latest word stemming from France of late having hinted that the latter have taken the lead in the race for Gabriel.

As outlined above, though, one more club who seemingly cannot yet be ruled out of the running for the stopper are Arsenal.

As per a report from Le10Sport, as cited by the Daily Star, the Gunners remain ‘in contention’ to seal a deal for Gabriel.

This comes with the transfer chiefs at the Emirates ‘monitoring the situation closely’, ahead of a potential summer bid.

Gabriel dos Santos Magalhaes of Losc Lille during the during the UEFA Champions League group H match between Valencia CF and Losc Lille at Estadio de Mestalla on November 5, 2019 in Valencia, Spain (Photo by Maria Jose Segovia/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Significantly, rumours surrounding Arsenal’s renewed interest in Gabriel come fresh on the back of claims that David Luiz is in line for a surprise departure from north London come the end of the campaign.

Despite the Brazilian international having only swapped Chelsea for the Gunners last summer, widespread speculation over the course of the week has hinted that Luiz’s expiring contract is unlikely to be renewed.

And a further update has since been forthcoming from Portugal today.

According to O Jogo, Primeira Liga giants Benfica, whom Luiz has previously expressed his desire to see out his career with, have made their interest in securing the veteran’s signature this summer clear.

Eagles president Luis Felipe Vieira is said to have personally reached out to Luiz, to inform him of the club’s mutual desire to reunite.

As such, it appears a genuine possibility that the former Chelsea and PSG star could secure a return to the Estádio da Luz this summer, with fellow countryman Gabriel joining Arsenal as his replacement.

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This article was edited by Josh Barker.

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