United make late move to hi­jack Ar­se­nal deal for de­fender Gabriel

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Mike McGrath

cen­tre-back Gabriel Magalhaes has de­layed mak­ing a de­ci­sion on his fu­ture and ex­pects Manch­ester United to make a late bid to land him in a £22.6 mil­lion deal.

Ar­se­nal have led the race for the Brazil­ian, 22, and have an agree­ment in place for him to move to the Emi­rates Sta­dium, al­though Napoli have also tar­geted him.

Ole Gun­nar Sol­sk­jaer, the United man­ager, is in the mar­ket for a cen­tre-back to part­ner Harry Maguire at the heart of his de­fence next sea­son and Gabriel has emerged as a low-risk op­tion for Premier League clubs, given his ask­ing price and ex­pe­ri­ence in the Cham­pi­ons League with Lille.

While Ar­se­nal re­main in pole po­si­tion, the deal had not been fi­nalised when the po­ten­tial move to United emerged. Sol­sk­jaer se­cured a top-four fin­ish and will be play­ing in Europe’s elite com­pe­ti­tion next sea­son.

Gabriel has been the sub­ject of in­ter­est from clubs since Ligue 1 was can­celled due to the coro­n­avirus pan­demic, with Ever­ton the first club to make a move and put a deal in place. Napoli have al­ways been in the run­ning for the player, who ar­rived from Brazil­ian club Avai three years ago and had loans at Troyes and Di­namo Za­greb.

Ar­se­nal were on the brink of land­ing him this week but the de­lay means United can en­ter the race. Sol­sk­jaer has made Maguire his cap­tain at Old Traf­ford but wants com­pe­ti­tion for Vic­tor Lin­de­lof, who has part­nered the Eng­land cen­tre-back for most of the sea­son.

United also have Eric Bailly, Timothy Fosu-Men­sah and Axel Tuanzebe, but Mar­cos Rojo can leave for the right price and Phil Jones has strug­gled with in­juries.

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