Gabriel Paulista
Manchester United have entered the race to sign Arsenal target Gabriel Paulista from VillarrealGetty Images

Manchester United have reportedly entered the race to sign Arsenal target Gabriel Paulista from Spanish club Villarreal.

According to the Evening Standard, Louis van Gaal is keen to strengthen the Red Devils' defence and with the defender being made available by his club, it is believed that the Dutch manager is keen to swoop in and beat the Gunners to the highly-rated defender's signature.

The north London club are reportedly in advanced talks with the La Liga club to sign Paulista with certain reports suggesting that Arsenal are close to agreeing a fee with Villarreal. But the club are standing firm and insist that the Gunners have to meet the defender's release clause ahead of bringing him to the Emirates Stadium.

The Spanish club have admitted to holding talks with the Emirates Stadium outfit, with the manager revealing that he is ready to sanction the move if the deal benefits both the parties.

Arsene Wenger is desperate to strengthen his defence during the ongoing January transfer window and has earmarked the Brazilian defender as the player to fulfill the role. Paulista has impressed in the La Liga this season helping Villarreal build the third best defence in the league only behind leaders Real Madrid and Barcelona.

However, with the price negotiations still on the table, United are looking to hijack the move and take him to Old Trafford this month.

Even if either club agrees to meet the player's release clause, they will have their work cut out in securing the player a work-permit as he does not meet the requirements stated by the UK's Home Office.

As Paulista is not a Brazilian international, Arsenal or United will have to prove that the player is of exceptional talent in order to secure the required work-permit for him to play in England.