Mikel Arteta has been told why Gabriel Magalhaes will be the perfect signing for Arsenal

Paul Merson believes the signing of Gabriel Magalhaes would be a ‘big statement’ from Arsenal.

The Gunners are said to be closing in on the Lille centre-back despite interest from a number of clubs around Europe.

And should they land Gabriel, it would be ‘huge’ for Arsenal, according to former player Merson.

“If Arsenal sign Gabriel Magalhaes I think it’s a big statement because of all the other clubs that were after him,” he told Starsport.

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“If Arsenal have managed to get him in without having Champions League football to offer, I think that’s huge.

“I like what Mikel Arteta is doing. But there are plenty of teams around them getting better as well.

“Chelsea have bought amazingly well. They are going to close the gap on Liverpool next season.

“It could be one of the tightest league title races in a long time. But Arsenal have a long way to go to get to that level.”

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The Gunners are in Community Shield action today, taking on Premier League champions Liverpool at Wembley Stadium.

And while the game means little in competitive terms, it will be an interesting ‘benchmark’, according to Merson.

“The Community Shield is a benchmark for Arsenal to see how far behind Liverpool they still are,” he added.

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