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Gabriel Paulista latest: work permit appears to be the key

He's going. Or he's not. But it does seem as if something might happen today or tomorrow, rather than waiting for the end of the transfer window.

Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Cadena SER, not exactly the most reliable source but better than many, reported today Gabriel Paulista will be sold to Arsenal for €20m.   Marcelino said earlier from a sporting point a sale would not be great, but if the club decided to do it for other reasons (financial), then he was OK with it.

This followed reports Arsenal had offered around €9m but Villarreal had said no. It does seem we have moved on from the early days when we were wondering if Gabriel was simply saying his agent was trying to get Arsenal to enquire about him.

Some Villarreal fans on twitter are expecting the deal to go through tomorrow as well--don't know if that is based solely on hearing the Cadena SER report, or something else.

But, there is still the work permit issue.  Gabriel is not automatically entitled to a work permit; these are granted automatically to "international players of the highest level" who have played in 75% or more of their national team's matches, and the national team is ranked in the top 70 by FIFA.

Gabriel hasn't played for Brazil at all.  However, there is an appeal process.  The appeal tribunal has to decide "whether the player is of the highest calibre" and whether "the player is able to contribute significantly to the development of the game at the top level in the UK".

So, can Arsenal get him a work permit?  I think so.  Gabriel is sort of a unique player in that he is a late bloomer (he's currently 24, three months younger than Mateo Musacchio).  He's only been with Villarreal for a year and a half, but he has played more minutes than anyone else this season, in a club that is now once again among the top 50 in the world.

The second requirement, to the extent it means anything at all, is probably designed to ensure a team doesn't just get a work permit for someone and then sit him on the bench or send him to the reserves.  Since Arsenal already had a €35m bid for Otamendi turned down, and they have injury problems on their back line, you have to believe Gabriel would be thrown into the fire pretty quickly.

And, the cynic in me has to believe Arsenal has enough high-payed lawyers to win an appeal like this.


Marcelino has had nothing but good to say about Gabriel over the last couple of days.  So if a deal hasn't yet been announced, but he is held out of the Copa match tomorrow, that would be a sign something is up.