It appears, based on the smoke that accompanies transfer fire, that Villarreal centerback Gabriel Paulista is or could be Arsenal's top transfer target of the final week and a half of the January transfer window. He's expressed his desire to come, and a look at his bonafides shows some promise. But as we all know, there are hurdles to be cleared before any transfer can be completed, and even if a team and player want each other, it's not always that simple.
For one thing, the player's current team may not want to sell. At least not unless the price is right.
Villarreal boss Marcelino had a few things to say about Gabriel Paulista in his pre-match press conference today...— Jamie Kemp (@jamiemkemp) January 20, 2015
"(Gabriel) is tremendously noble and an exemplary professional. His head is here and he wants to keep demonstrating his worth here." #AFC— Jamie Kemp (@jamiemkemp) January 20, 2015
"On a sporting level, I wouldn't like to see Gabriel leave but we have to see the opinion of the club, if an offer is irresistible..." #AFC— Jamie Kemp (@jamiemkemp) January 20, 2015
There's some room to haggle. According to Jeremy Wilson, Arsenal have a starting offer of around £6 million on the table with the potential to rise to £10 million or more. Villarreal want something closer (at least) to the €20 million (that's £15.25 million or so, for comparison's sake) release clause in Paulista's contract. That's a bridge that can be built.
More troubling is the work permit issue. Wilson goes into more detail, but suffice it to say that the fact Paulista has no caps for Brazil is a problem, but not an unsolvable one -- there is a way to appeal on behalf of a player who hasn't appeared in 75% of his country's international matches. If the permit can't be had, though, that might be a nail in the coffin that can't be overcome.
Arsenal has interest. The player has interest. The manager sounds like he can be convinced. Those are big positives towards this getting done, but there's certainly no guarantee here.