Arsenal have opened talks with Gremio about signing midfielder Bitello, according to 90min.com.
The website claims that the Brazilian could be available for as little as £8.5m, as long as the Gunners include a sell-on clause, and it is possible that a “deal could be struck this week”.
Links to Bitello first emerged on Monday but things have progressed quickly since then, with reports in the Brazilian media suggesting that Arsenal officials were flying out to Porto Alegre to discuss a transfer.
One slight complication could hold up the deal slightly. Gremio only own 70% of the player, with his previous team FC Cascavel holding the remaining 30%.
However, considering the relatively small numbers involved in the transfer, you can’t see it being a problem for Arsenal to pay slightly more than £8.5m in order to own the player outright (which is required under Premier League rules).
Arsenal representatives watched Bitello on Wednesday night
90min.com have confirmed that the Gunners did have representatives in the stands for Gremio’s Copa do Brasil quarter-final clash against Bahia.
It was a dramatic evening, as Gremio won the tie on penalties, with the score 2-2 on aggregate after a 1-1 draw at home in the second leg.
Bitello was on the pitch for the full 90 minutes and he did miss his penalty but, luckily for him, it didn’t prove to be fatal to his team’s chances of progressing to the next round of the competition.
Considering the former Chelsea player didn’t have the best of times when he spent a season at the Emirates, fans may not be happy that Bitello’s game has been compared to Willian’s.
The 23-year-old is, though, a very adaptable player, having played as a DM, a central midfielder, a no.10 and a winger for Gremio this season. It appears Arsenal are keen to snap him up for his versatility.
In terms of where Bitello could fit in to Mikel Arteta’s team, he may be seen as a backup of Bukayo Saka on the right wing, or perhaps another option for the advanced ‘8’ role following Granit Xhaka’s departure to Bayer Leverkusen.
The Brazilian could well surprise many with his ability on the ball but there is an assumption that he is being pursued in order to add depth to the squad for a relatively low price. Following the £200m outlay on three other players, that seems like a pretty sensible decision by Edu and manager Mikel Arteta.