Wenger confirms move for Brazilian defender is “very, very close”

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A quiet January transfer window is about to be woken up slightly.

Arsene Wenger confirmed after today’s 3-2 FA Cup win over Brighton & Hove Albion that a move for Brazilian defender Gabriel Paulista is “very, very, very close.” The rumored transfer fee is in the $22.5 million range, with Wenger saying “It should be done I think tomorrow.”

Sky Sports is reporting that striker Joel Campbell will move to Villareal on loan for the rest of the season as part of the deal.

Paulista is a 24-year-old central defender who has only been at Villareal for one year. He joined from Brazilian club Vitoria, and has not appeared for Brazil’s national team at either the senior or youth levels, something that could affect his ability to get a work permit.

“Paulista is a central defender but can also play on the flanks,” Wenger said of his new purchase. “He is tall and pacy. He has a good chance to adapt to English football. I see good potential in him. The deal could be done before the FA Cup draw tomorrow.

The move was also confirmed by Villareal following their 1-0 win over Levante on Saturday, of which Paulista was held out. It was the first match of the season in any competition that he did not play in. In fact, the 24-year-old has logged 1,608 out of a possible 1,710 La Liga minutes for his club before yesterday’s match, highest of any outfield player in the Villareal squad.

A defender is exactly what the doctor ordered for Arsenal. Wenger has been forced to heavily rotate his back line due to injuries in the middle. Per Mertesacker has logged a team-high 1,890 minutes, but the spot beside him has been a question mark all seaosn long thanks to multiple injuries to regular central defender Laurent Koscielny. Calum Chambers has been thrown all over the back line, with full-backs Nacho Monreal, Mathieu Debuchy, and Kieran Gibbs also forced into the middle in emergencies.