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Lopez tips Arsenal target to join big club

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

The 22-year-old impressed against Chelsea in the Champions League this season and has attracted interest from the Premier League duo.

Arsenal’s defensive frailties are still visible despite bringing in Cedric Soares and Pablo Mari on loan deals in January, and it appears Mikel Arteta is keen on strengthening his backline further and has targeted Magalhaes in recent weeks.

Everton are also among those said to be interested in the centre-back and Lopez reckons whoever the youngster signs for will be getting a ‘machine’:

‘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.

‘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.’

With the likes of Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis being linked with moves away from the Emirates this summer, Arteta will certainly want to replace one of if not both players.

Arteta may decide to sign Mari on a permanent deal and should that materialize then another centre-back will likely come in as well. Magalhaes would be a good option for the Gunners to take up depending on Lille’s asking price for the Brazilian, but the club have also been linked with other centre-backs this summer, including Jerome Boateng and Chris Smalling.

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