Chelsea and Arsenal target Gabriel set to join ‘really big club’

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Lille defender Gabriel has been linked with a number of Premier League clubs, including Chelsea and Arsenal (Picture: Getty)

Lille president Gerard Lopez believes Gabriel Magalhaes is on course to join a ‘really big club’ amid interest from the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal.

The Brazilian centre-half impressed against Frank Lampard’s side in the Champions League this season and is a former teammates of Arsenal’s record signing Nicolas Pepe.

Mikel Arteta has overseen a significant improvement in Arsenal’s defence since his appointment in December and reinforced his backline with the loan additions of Cedric Soares and Pablo Mari in January, but is believed to remain keen on strengthening further in that area of the pitch.

Lampard, meanwhile, has chopped and changed his central defenders this season but has failed to find a settled combination. Everton are also among the Premier League clubs chasing the 22-year-old’s services and Lopez believes whoever eventually signs the player will be getting a ‘machine’.

He told Sky Sports: ‘It’s true that he would like to go and try something else out. We haven’t taken that decision yet, but he’s received a number of offers. I feel he’s closer to one club than others, but nothing’s done yet so we’ll see.

Arsenal paid Lille £72million last summer to sign Nicolas Pepe (Picture: Getty)

‘I wouldn’t want to say any more as I respect the player too much. The mechanism I have in place, and we saw that work so well with Nico [Nicolas Pepe], is that I have a certain price in mind for a player, and at the end of the day it’s the player’s choice to go and play where he wants to play – that’s the respect that I have for them.

‘I feel he is among the top five dominant central defenders in Europe right now. His statistics, which aren’t well covered outside of France, shows that his percentage for winning duels is pretty unheard of in a league that’s extremely physical.

‘He’s an absolute machine, so to me, he’s well on his way – if not this year – to potentially a really big club. I’m certain he’s on his way to the Brazilian national team at some point.

‘He’s been linked to two clubs in the UK and he’s clearly been linked to other clubs that have either enquired or moved forward with proposals for him. But we’re not in a hurry and we’re not playing right now. The player isn’t on the pitch.’

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