Arsenal still ‘optimistic’ of Gabriel Magalhaes transfer amid five-year plan

Mikel Arteta is desperate to improve his Arsenal squad this summer.

Although they did lift the FA Cup with a narrow victory over Chelsea at Wembley, the Premier League finish of eight was far lower than supporters had been expecting when the season began under Unai Emery.

With particular focus on the defence, the Gunners have been linked with several targets, but none more often than Lille centre-back Gabriel Magalhaes.

The 22-year-old’s family have hinted that a move to the Emirates is on the cards on three separate occasions, but Napoli are not willing to back away as Kalidou Koulibaly continues to be linked with a move of his own.

According to Italian journalist Ignazio Genuardi, Arsenal are optimistic over their chances of getting a deal over the line, and the player could sign a five-year deal at the Emirates.

Genuardi adds that Napoli have been delayed in their move because of the uncertainty over Koulibaly, which could end their chances of sealing a deal.

Everton are also said to have ‘surrendered’ their interest after being linked to a deal earlier in the summer.

Lille chief Gerard Lopez has been open about the future of the defender, stating last week that the player will leave.

“He is one of the players that we allowed to exit the club this summer, he asked for it and wants to try something else,” he told Sky Sports.

“We clearly told him what our expectations were, we spoke to a number of clubs, our expectations were met by a number of clubs and we have given him 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.”

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Arteta said of his transfer plans back in June: “We have to put a plan [in place] to improve our squad, that’s first, fulfil the ambitions that we have, have the right players to support the talented young players that we have.

“They are still in the very early stages of their development and we have to know that, but we don’t have time.

“The demands of this football club are huge and we cannot stay still. We have to change things, we have to improve them.

“The most important thing is not about keeping [players], it is about improving them, convince them of what we are trying to do and get them performing and winning football matches.”

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