Perrin claims Arsenal wanted him over Gabriel

St. Etienne defender Loic Perrin has contradicted Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and claimed he was the Gunners’ first choice, not Gabriel Paulista, the Daily Mail has reported.

Wenger rubbished suggestions Gabriel, signed in January from La Liga side Villarreal, was behind Perrin in his list of winter transfer targets, but Perrin has said his management team spoke at length with the London club before Gabriel made an £11.2m move to the Premier League.

“There have been serious contacts through my agent,” he told Goal. “I think I was on the shortlist but not at the top, apparently! I have always said that, if I had to leave [St. Etienne] one day it would be for a bigger club to play in the Champions League. A club like Arsenal. I do not think many players in Ligue 1 would refuse them.”

Perrin, 29, has spent his entire career at St. Etienne, making his debut for the senior side in the 2004-05 season. He has gone on to play almost 300 times for the club and is the team captain, and has a handful of appearances for the France Under-21 side to his name.

Gabriel, meanwhile, spent less than two seasons at Villarreal, moving to El Madrigal in the summer of 2013 after coming through the ranks at Brazilian club Vitoria. He played 50 times for the Yellow Submarine and is yet to feature for his new side, having been named as a substitute for the game win over Aston Villa.

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