Chelsea enter the battle to sign €25m-rated Ligue 1 defender

The London club have stolen a march on Arsenal in the battle to sign Lille centre-back Gabriel Magalhaes. U23 Brazil international impressed with Frank Lampard’s side during the group stages of this campaign’s Champions League and is valued at nearly £30m by the Ligue 1 giants.

The London giants manager has afforded regular chances to Andreas Christensen, Kurt Zouma, Antonio Rudiger and Fikayo Tomori this campaign, but has struggled to settle on a regular combination at the heart of his back-line.

Blues were banned from making any new additions last summer, but after the Court of Arbitration halved their punishment for Sport they have already made progress with rebuilding their squad ahead of next campaign. Hakim Ziyech will join from Ajax, and Eurosport claims a deal for Magalhaes is almost complete.

Gunners had been heavily linked with Gabriel and had hoped their strong relationship with the Les Dogues following the signing of Nicolas Pepe would stand them in good stead. Mikel Arteta was able to bolster his back-line in January with the loan signings of Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares.

Gunners have the option to make both deals permanent in the summer but the futures of Mustafi and Sokratis stay uncertain. Shkodran’s form has improved markedly since Mikel Arteta was appointed Unai Emery’s permanent successor, but earlier this week admitted he was far from confident he would be offered a new contract.

‘I’ve played more regularly under Mikel Arteta, also in the Premier League. That has helped me. I feel excellent. I understand his style of football, how he likes to play, that fits me,’ he said.