Despite Gabriel Paulista not meeting current international criteria to play in England, with the 24-year-old Brazilian centre-half yet to be capped for his country, Arsenal were allowed to sign him for around £12m from Villarreal last month due to his status as an ‘exceptional talent’.
Such blatant bending of the rules in this instance is laughable; surely all transfer targets tracked by top clubs are ‘exceptional’, although the word itself seems to lose all meaning in this context.
What makes Gabriel, a veteran of 115 senior club appearances over the past four-and-a-half years without receiving a Canarinho callup, so exceptional? Answers on a postcard please…
As if to add insult to this injurious treatment of the English language, Arsene Wenger may need further facetime with the Emirates persuaders-in-chief (aka lawyers) to convince the Football Association to ordain another ‘exceptional talent’ this summer.
According to the London Evening Standard, Arsenal have joined north London neighbours Spurs in keeping tabs on Cagliari’s young Ghanaian holding-midfielder Godfred Donsah.
The 18-year-old only made his Rossoblu debut in mid-October, coming on with Gianfranco Zola’s side 2-0 down to help rescue a 2-2 draw, before playing every minute of their next match – a 4-0 win away to Empoli.
Despite not being named in the first XI for any of Cagliari’s next ten games, Donsah has started each of his side’s past seven Serie A fixtures, seemingly seeing off the challenge of January signing Josef Husbauer in the centre of the park.
Stadio Sant’Elia supremo Tommaso Giulini insists he will do all he can to keep the player, who has been described as ‘the new Michael Essien’, until the summer of 2016, in order to aid his development as a first-team starter.
As it is, Arsenal, Spurs and other reported suitors will struggle to make a deal until Donsah turns out a few times for his country, which he is yet to do.
Of course, if he’s an ‘exceptional talent’ then exceptions can clearly be made.