According to a report from L'Equipe out of France - typically relatively reliable for Arsenal news, but not iron-clad - Brazilian playmaker Bernard will travel to London at the end of the week to complete a move to Arsenal from Atletico Mineiro. The paper reports that personal terms have already been agreed, and if he passes his medical the deal would be official. No transfer fee is reported.
L'Equipe reporter Jérôme Touboul, presumably the writer behind the initial report (the only byline is "J.T." because evidently L'Equipe is a newspaper in a Holmes story) has "confirmed" the report, which evidently now has spread to ESPN Brazil.
L'Equipe journalist Jérôme Touboul says Arsenal have been fond on Bernard since weeks, and adds that all parties have given green light #AFC— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStats) July 22, 2013
Of course, it can't just be that easy. The token Arsene Wenger rebuttal:
#afc Arsene Wenger denied Arsenal signing Bernard when I asked him. 'That report is not true.'— John Cross (@johncrossmirror) July 22, 2013
This doesn't mean much, as Wenger has a history of talking around possible transfers (if I remember right, he claimed last summer at one point that he didn't know who Santi Cazorla was). But he's also not saying that it's done, so that's no help really.
What actually does add to the story is this, from freelancer Rafael Hernández, on Porto's interest in the player.
Problem with Bernard to Arsenal is Porto interest, they have a partnership with the group that own part of the player rights.— Rafael Hernández (@RafaelH117) July 22, 2013
Meaning he could go to Porto much cheaper than Arsenal if the group is willing to cash in a future sale to another top club.— Rafael Hernández (@RafaelH117) July 22, 2013
If that's accurate information, I would not be surprised to see Bernard go to Porto first, then make a move to a bigger club. It's unlikely that he would stay there long-term, if the money is truly that much of an issue, and if the whole point is to add in another sale. It's also possible that the player would want to skip the "stepping stone" and jump straight to Arsenal (or a similarly moneyed club; Liverpool and Tottenham have both been linked).
Based on what we've seen so far here, I doubt the veracity of the L'Equipe story. Based on what I've seen from L'Equipe in the past, I wouldn't be shocked if I ended up wrong, and Bernard is an Arsenal player by the end of the week. It seems unbelievable, but I suppose stranger things have happened. It's really a toss-up for me right now, so we'll just have to wait and see.