Transfer talk: Arsenal and Villarreal agree to Gabriel Paulista deal, with Joel Campbell headed to Spain

Villarreal announced the agreement on Saturday on their Twitter account, wishing Gabriel Paulista 'the best' in his move to Arsenal and welcoming Joel Campbell back to La Liga on a loan.

Gabriel Paulista shown during a match with Villarreal in August. The La Liga club announced his move to Arsenal on Saturday, January 24, 2015. Tom Dulat / Getty Images
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La Liga side Villarreal announced on Saturday that they have reached an agreement with Arsenal for the transfer of Brazilian defender Gabriel Paulista.

As part of the deal, Costa Rican forward Joel Campbell will join Villarreal on loan for the rest of the season.

Paulista wasn’t included for Villarreal’s home game against Levante on Saturday.

“Agreement in principle for the transfer of Gabriel to Arsenal, who will say goodbye after today’s game. We wish him all the best,” said a statement on Villarreal’s official Twitter account.

“Welcome to Joel Campbell. Loan agreement with Arsenal for the rest of the season,” the club added.

Paulista started his career with Vitoria in his homeland before joining Villarreal at the start of last season.

However, he has played a more important role during the current campaign, starting every league match until Saturday as Villarreal put together a 16-game unbeaten run to move up to sixth in La Liga and progress to the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey and last 32 of the Europa League.

Campbell has continued to see his opportunities at Arsenal limited this season despite a starring role as Costa Rica reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup last year.

The 22-year-old also has experience of La Liga having spent a year on loan with Real Betis during the 2012/13 season.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, meanwhile, had been cautiously optimistic at a press conference on Thursday that a suitable agreement could be brokered. Villarreal wanted to see a EU€20 million (Dh82.3m) release clause activated, while Arsenal were said to be offering in the region of £10m (Dh55m), following add-ons to an initial down payment.

The move will need Home Office approval because the 24-year-old defender does not meet the current required international criteria for a work permit as he is yet to represent Brazil.

As such, Arsenal will need to convince a Football Association hearing that the player is an “exceptional talent”.

A new set of regulations has been proposed for next season in a bid to reduce the number of non-European Union passport holders within the English domestic game.

The changes, backed by Football Association chairman Greg Dyke, would see the current requirement of a player having taken part in 75 per cent of internationals over the past two years if their country is ranked within the top 70 tightened, but also allow an exception for any transfers over £10m.

Wenger has long championed the complete freedom of movement for talented players, no matter what their passport says, and believes there is an argument to make football a special case to scrap all the government red tape.

“Ideally it would open completely, and anyone can come in,” the Frenchman said on Thursday, at his press conference ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup tie at Brighton.

“We had identified (Angel) di Maria when he was 17. We saw him in an international competition and we wanted him to come here.

“But he goes to Portugal, and from Portugal he goes to Spain. Why? Because he could not get a work permit (for England), so that means you can only get him to England once he is worth a huge amount of money.

“What does it mean if at the end of the day he comes anyway into the country (later on), just with a huge amount of money (in a transfer fee) – and who do you pay this huge amount of money to? A club like Real Madrid, they don’t need the money.

“We have to be conscious of that.”

Wenger admitted last week that it would be a gamble not to bring in a new defender this month.

The North London side have been regularly left short of defensive cover this season with the likes of Laurent Koscielny, Kieran Gibbs, Nacho Monreal and Mathieu Debuchy all suffering injuries.

Debuchy is expected to be out for another three months after undergoing surgery on his right shoulder, leaving Wenger with only six fit senior defenders at the club.

“We can cope because we have (Calum) Chambers, (Per) Mertesacker, Koscielny,” Wenger said earlier this month.

“But we have now lost Debuchy who can play centre-back, Monreal who can play centre-back and Gibbs has been out too.

“So if we have another injury or two we will struggle. It is risky (not to sign anyone) – too risky.”

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