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Arsenal after Villarreal defender Gabriel Paulista in winter window

Arsenal, odds-on at 4/9 with Coral for a top four finish, are interested in signing Villarreal’s Brazilian centre back Gabriel Paulista from the La Liga side, according to today’s press.

The 24-year-old has a reported buyout clause of €20m in his contract at El Madrigal, and the Yellow Submarine will not allow their defensive rock to leave for less.

Paulista has helped Villarreal keep 13 clean sheets across all competitions this term, and there have been calls from some Spanish journalists for him to receive international recognition for this fine form. Senior Brazil centre backs David Luiz and Thiago Silva let their country down on home soil in respective semi-final and third-place play-off outings at the World Cup this past summer.

Samba Boys boss Dunga, who succeeded Luiz Felipe Scolari as national coach following the tournament, has kept both ex-Chelsea defender Luiz and current PSG teammate Silva on his roster, however. Parc des Princes colleague Marquinhos and Atletico Madrid’s Joao Miranda were also included in the last Brazil squad.

Arsene Wenger recently revealed he felt it would be “risky” for Arsenal not to bring in some defensive cover this January. “It is risky [not to sign anyone] – too risky,” he said, prior to masterminding a 2-0 Gunners win over Premier League champions Manchester City at the Etihad.

“If we have another injury or two we will struggle. We can cope because we have [Calum] Chambers, [Per] Mertesacker and [Laurent] Koscielny.

“Why have we not signed a defender? We haven’t found one. We are not the only ones working on the case. It is not a supermarket where you go in and buy a defender. It is a market that is very restricted. The players who can strengthen the best 10 teams in Europe, you don’t find many and it is the same for everybody.”

In Paulista, Wenger may have finally found a player of the calibre he is prepared to invest in at the right price. Arsenal have previously been linked with Borussia Dortmund captain Mats Hummels, but it would likely take a bid well in excess of £30m would to bring Mertesacker’s fellow German and World Cup winner to the Emirates.

As the Gunners are perennial top four finishers, a 13/8 price on them failing to do so under Wenger for the first time this term is an unlikely outcome. It is their consistent qualification to the Champions League that allows Arsenal to attract top players.