Premier League • England

Arsenal at risk of damaging departure as Saudi interest forces Arteta to pinpoint two replacements from Prem rivals

Gabriel Magalhaes, Marc Guehi and Aymeric Laporte

Arsenal defender Gabriel Magalhaes could be replaced by Marc Guehi or Aymeric Laporte

Arsenal defender Gabriel Magalhaes has become a target for the Saudi Pro League, according to a report – and the interest has prompted the club to consider who could replace him.

Gabriel has been a regular starter for Arsenal since joining them from Lille in 2020. However, he was not among their starting lineup for their Premier League opener against Nottingham Forest at the weekend (although he did come on as a substitute for Jurrien Timber).

According to the Daily Mirror, Gabriel has attracted interest from Saudi Arabia after various high-profile players moved to the Middle East this summer.

No bids are on the table yet, nor is it clear which clubs exactly might be in for him, but the threat is lingering for a player under contract at the Emirates Stadium until 2027.

And if he does leave, Arsenal will have to find a replacement for Gabriel. After all, Timber – who only joined the club this summer from Ajax – suffered an injury on his league debut.

If the Dutchman is going to be out for the long term, it would make the departure of Gabriel even more hurtful for Arsenal. They would still have William Saliba, Benjamin White, Rob Holding and Jakub Kiwior at centre-back, but if they want to keep developing a fluid system, they need plenty of options.

With that in mind, the report names Marc Guehi from Crystal Palace and Aymeric Laporte from Manchester City as two candidates to come to Arsenal as a replacement.

Laporte has fallen down the pecking order for Man City, so could follow his former teammates Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko to north London. Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta worked with him in Manchester, so could reunite with him.

Like Gabriel (and Kiwior), Laporte is a left-footed defender, so he could be the most natural successor.

Arsenal also add Guehi to shortlist

The right-footed Guehi, meanwhile, is simultaneously of interest to Chelsea as well after previously playing in their academy. Still only 23 years old, the man with four England caps is regarded as a player with high potential.

Palace have Guehi under contract at Selhurst Park until 2026 – one year later than Laporte’s terms at the Etihad Stadium are due to expire.

Gabriel, meanwhile, is approaching his peak years at the age of 25 and has 120 Arsenal appearances to his name so far. Champions League football is on offer to him by staying at Arteta’s disposal, after he previously played six times in the competition for Lille.

Some of his Brazilian compatriots have signed for Saudi clubs this summer, including Alex Telles (Al-Nassr from Manchester United), Roger Ibanez (Roma to Al-Ahli) and Malcom (Zenit Saint Petersburg to Al-Hilal) – while Neymar could become the most high-profile of the lot if his move from PSG to Al-Hilal goes through.

Unlike several of their Premier League rivals, Arsenal are yet to send any of their players to Saudi clubs in 2023, so it will be interesting to see what the outcome will be for Gabriel.

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