Position: Central Defender
Squad no. 5
Height: 6ft 2
Interesting Fact: Although he has played in three different competitions in Europe, Gabriel has never played any part for his national side, Brazil. This means that if he plays four years in England, he will be granted permission to play for the national side.
Gabriel Paulista, the signing that came from nowhere but was desperately needed. When entering the market in January, Arsene Wenger knew that he had to improve the back line, and didn’t waste time in trying to find the right man. Bought for £11.3m, Gabriel joins as a centre back who is more than capable of challenging for a starting place. After spending three years with Villarreal, Gabriel cried in front of the fans during his leaving celebration on the last game he played for the club. Now, from that information it doesn’t take a genius to recognise that this is a man who is loyal and dedicated to the club he plays for, and that’s a hard trait to find in the transfer window today. Now his focus is to work his way into the starting line up, which if an injury occurs to either Mertesacker or Koscielny, shouldn’t be too hard to come across. He knows why he was brought in, and that is to provide competition for places in the back four which can often get a little leaky.
How much will he play?
There is no doubt that Paulista has the ability to be first team standard week in, week out, but the only thing that stands in his way is the partnership of Koscielny and Mertesacker. After flourishing last season, the duo have started to tie things up again and will make it hard for Paulista to simply walk into the team. Paulista will simply be used as a rotation player at first, with Arsenal still competing in three major competitions.
During the weeks where Arsenal are playing three games in the space of 10 days, Wenger will want to freshen things up at the back, and that’s where Gabriel and Callum Chambers can be used as a versatile option.
If he is performing well then Wenger has already shown he isn’t afraid to make rotations in the squad, with the most noticeable being our goalkeeper situation. The good thing is that Gabriel has come from playing regular football in La Liga, so he won’t want to settle for a spot warming up the bench each week.
How well will he do?
At his age and the 4 year contract he has just signed, Gabriel is looking to come in and be an established leader by the time Koscielny is reaching the end of his peak, and in the meantime it will be long gone for Mertesacker. So in time he will get his chance, and he has the quality and confidence to take no mercy in this Arsenal team.
He is a player much like Sanchez, who lives for the position he plays and is hard on himself, he always wants to improve and is never happy with being second best. Qualities such as these will see him become a long-term Arsenal player. His technical ability lies in the aerial threat, and is just what we need when covering set pieces so Steve Bould will love to work with the Brazilian.