Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who has often been criticized for not spending enough time working on the defensive side of his teama s game, seems to have turned over a new leaf as witnessed in the Gunnersa 2-0 win over Manchester City last weekend. Following it, the Frenchman has gone into the transfer market and bought Brazilian centre-half Gabriel Paulista from Villareal. Herea s a look at the 24-year-old who cost the Londoners A?15m.
Who is Gabriel Paulista?
Born in Sao Paulo, Paulista has only played for two clubs in his career so far. As a talented youngster, Paulista was spotted by Esporte Clube VitA?ria from where he graduated into a professional footballer. Paulista, who is nicknamed Gabriel, made his debut for the club in March 2010 in a 3-1 win over Campeonato Baiano championship.
In his early years at the club, Paulista played as a right-back and wasna t a first team regular up until 2011. As he grew in stature, he was moved into the centre of the defence. His versatility had made him important not only at Vitoria, but also later at Villareal.
When asked about his best quality, Paulista said, “It’s difficult to speak about yourself,” he explained, “but people around me say I’m really quick and good in the air.a
“They also say I have a really good capacity to recover, both on and off the pitch. But I still want to grow. I can still improve a lot.”
Apart from pace and his ability to head the ball, Paulista is an intelligent player whoa s reads the game well, and much like most Brazilians, loves to get on the ball and drive forward.
A couple of successful seasons at Vitoria when he made a total of 92 appearances, saw him attract interest from a couple of European clubs, one of whom was Villareal. Prior to the start of the 2013/14 season, Paulista made the move to the El Madrigal.
He made his debut against eventual champions Atletico Madrid in November and went on to make 21 appearances for the club in his debut season, excelling in the centre-halfa s position. His contribution in his opening season was duly recognized by manager Marcelino Garc a Toral who made him a first team regular this season. Paulista has already played in 28 games in the 14/15 season thus far.
What will he bring to Arsenal?
Paulista is very much an Arsene Wenger type of player but has other qualities that will most definitely add to this team. One thing that this Arsenal team lacks right now is players who want to defend, and the Brazilian is a player who likes to do that first and foremost.
Interestingly, he is also a player with an eye for confrontation. Arsenal players at this moment in time are often labelled a too softa , but Paulista isna t one to lay down and take a beating. He has at times been likened to fellow Brazilian Marquinhos.
His addition will be more than just welcomed at the Emirates, as at the moment, there are a total of six defenders in the squad. With the club looking to push on, deep into the Champions League and the FA Cup, that is too small a number. It also underlines what could be a change in perspective from the cluba s long serving manager who gets a lot of slack for not drilling his teama s defence.
Per Mertesacker, the cluba s go to man when it comes to the defence, has played a mammoth 27 games this season. The German, of course, was a part of the squad which won the World Cup in Germany just a few months earlier.
If Paulista does well, he could form a central defensive partnership with summer signing Calum Chambers in the future which is something most Arsenal fans would be hoping for.