Arsenal are increasingly confident that they have beaten Napoli to the signing of Gabriel Magalhães, the coveted Lille centre-back, and feel optimistic of completing a deal quickly.
The 22-year-old has been the subject of intense interest in recent weeks after an excellent season in Ligue 1, with Manchester City and Manchester United also among those watching developments. But Arsenal and Napoli emerged as frontrunners last week, with the Premier League side having a €24m (£21.6m) bid accepted and waiting to see whether the Brazil under-20 international would warm to their interest.
An agreement between player and club is now close and Arsenal believe the transfer could be completed soon. Nonetheless there will remain doubts until Gabriel has signed, given the number of clubs in the picture. Napoli would view him as a replacement for Kalidou Koulibaly, who has been linked with City, but Arsenal’s interest and ability to complete the deal are clearer-cut given its lack of dependence on other developments.
While Arsenal hope to welcome Gabriel in the near future, they have said goodbye to one of their assistant coaches, Freddie Ljungberg. The Swede wants to fulfil his long-held ambition of a role in management and all parties have amicably agreed it is in his best interests to move on.
Ljungberg enjoyed a glittering nine-year spell as a player under Arsène Wenger and went on to coach their under-15s, returning two years later after a spell as assistant manager at Wolfsburg. His brief was initially to oversee the under-23s but last summer he became a first-team coach, stepping up as caretaker manager for six games after Unai Emery’s dismissal.
While he has remained part of the senior setup under Mikel Arteta, the new manager brought in Steve Round and Albert Stuivenberg to supplement his coaching staff in December. Ljungberg, who is highly rated and has attracted interest from elsewhere, will now seek to exert greater influence as the number one at another club.