If things keep going the way they have been doing, and the rest of the Arsenal squad can help him to resist the urge to react to the sort of provocation that got him sent off after the Chelsea and Spain striker Diego Costa´s latest use of the football dark arts, then our Brazilian international defender Gabriel looks set to become a first team regular for the Gunners.
Now I don´t know about the rest of you Arsenal fans, but I was a little bit nonplussed when I heard who Arsene Wenger was planning to sign to reinforce the Arsenal defensive options in the last January transfer window. And to be perfectly honest, Gabriel did not do too much in the early part of his Arsenal career to convince me that the boss had pulled off a great piece of transfer business.
But the 24-year old centre back is changing my mind this season and is starting to draw praise from the football media as well. That aggression that saw him stand up to Costa a few weeks ago is also evident in the way he plays, defending on the front foot and refusing to be easily beaten.
Another side of that is his drive and determination, which is the same sort of South American trait we see in Alexis Sanchez. Gabriel has revealed in a report on the Arsenal website that the reason behind is his upbringing in a deprived district, or Favela, in Brazil and how proud he is to have been able to help his mother get out of it.
He explained, “She lived in a shack in a favela. I talk about it because I am not ashamed of saying it, and today I am proud of being able to help her, to give her a better life, and me as well because I always dreamed about it. Thanks to God, things are coming true.
“I have seen many things on the outdoor neighbourhood pitches. I have seen death, I have witnessed robberies, I’ve been robbed in Sao Paulo. I’ve seen many things. I practically grew up with this. But thanks to God I took a path in my life because, for all that I have seen, for the bad things I have witnessed, my life could have been very different.
“But I was strong. I thought about my mother’s story and told myself that my mother couldn’t go through this anymore. She can’t, she must have a better life. So thanks to God I took a different path and am here today. I am fulfilling a dream I had since I was little, and thanks to God things are moving in the right direction.”
Gabriel joined a long line of Brazilians who have used football to escape poverty, and he is hoping his story can inspire the next generation of youngsters to make a similar journey.
“Everybody knows about the corruption happening, and every day is a surprise. So I think Brazilians don’t like seeing that, but the kids have so many opportunities to play. Every neighbourhood has a football academy for the kids to follow this path, which is something I also want for the neighbourhood where I was born.
“I want to serve as a mirror to them, for them to see that I have gone through difficult times and managed to do it, and see that they can do it too. It’s not just me. If you work hard and respect the people above us, you can do it.”
The fact that Gabriel uses the name Paulista, which means he comes from Sao Paulo, shows that he has not forgotten his hard start in life and if that helps to keep driving him on to bigger and better things, then it will only be good for Arsenal and hard for Premier League strikers like Costa.