Gabriel Paulista
Gabriel Paulista, left, continues to await news on whether he will be moving to Arsenal during the January transfer window. Reuters

Arsenal’s pursuit of Villarreal defender Gabriel Paulista continues to drag on, although one report suggests that a deal may now be just a matter of hours away. Gunners manager Arsène Wenger confirmed on Thursday that negotiations were underway to sign the Brazilian center-back, although placed the chances of his arrivals at just “50-50.”

Arsenal are said to have made an initial offer of £6 million, with Villarreal thought to be holding out for the 24-year-old’s 20 million euros (£15 million) buy-out clause. The situation has been further complicated by the fact that, having never made an international appearance for Brazil, Gabriel would not automatically qualify for a work permit. It means Arsenal will be eager to get negotiations wrapped up as soon as possible in order to try and arrange a work permit before the close of the January transfer window. Potentially adding to Arsenal’s urgency is reported interest in the player from Manchester United. The Old Trafford club is also known to be on the lookout for a center-back this month, although they have been more strongly linked with other targets.

Spanish sports daily Marca has reported that an agreement with Arsenal could now be close, with the Gunners having been made aware of Villarreal’s stance on the player’s valuation. According to the publication, the final deal could include Joel Campbell moving in the other direction on a loan deal until the end of the season. There may well be some resistance to that from Wenger, however, given that he has already allowed forwards Lukas Podolski and Yaya Sanogo to leave on loan this month.

Wenger made it clear in his latest press conference that he was not prepared to wait until the summer to welcome Gabriel, with Mathieu Debuchy’s recent injury increasing his need to secure defensive reinforcement in the current transfer window. Should an agreement to sign Gabriel fail to materialize, Marca suggests that Arsenal could renew their interest in another La Liga center-back, Hector Moreno. The Mexico international has been a standout player for club and country for some time and, having recently switched agents to the renowned Mino Raiola, it’s widely believed he could soon be on the move. However, Catalan daily Sport reports that Juventus also have a keen interest in the 27-year-old.

Elsewhere, there remains plenty of speculation about the identity of the goalkeeper any new defensive signing will be playing in front of next season. Long-time first-choice Wojciech Szczesny has been left out of the side in recent games after a poor performance and subsequent disciplinary issue, with Colombian David Ospina coming in and keeping three consecutive clean sheets.

But the Daily Mail reports that Arsenal want to bring in a new No. 1 from outside the club, and are eyeing up a summer transfer for Fiorentina’s Neto. Also linked to Liverpool and Juventus, the Brazilian has been out of the side in recent weeks after making it clear that he had no intention of extending his contract with the Serie A club beyond the end of the season. He has now free to discuss a free transfer with clubs outside of Italy.

In other rumors, the Daily Star suggests that reported Arsenal target Martin Montoya could now be headed for French club Marseille. The right-back has found opportunities extremely limited under Luis Enrique at Barcelona this season and his agent has made it clear that he wants to leave in order to get regular first-team action. Whether Arsenal were even a serious player for the 23-year-old seems doubtful, however. Having only signed Debuchy last summer and with Hector Bellerin emerging this season, while Calum Chambers can also operate there, a right-back would appear low on Wenger’s list of priorities.