Not a lot of Arsenal fans had heard about Gabriel Paulista before Arsene Wenger decided he was the right player we needed to shore up our defence, but obviously Le Prof has had scouts watching him and analysing his performances (as revealed yesterday) and believes that he could grow to be a star at Arsenal.
But it’s not just Wenger. Gabriel’s old coach, Marcelino García Toral at Villarreal, also believes that the Brazilian will be a hit in the Premier League: “He’s a kid who has really progressed,” Marcelino said in the Guardian.
“It was hard to adapt because football in Brazil is very, very different to football in Europe, tactically, in particular. He was poco trabajado, he’d not really been worked on. But thanks to an impeccable attitude, sacrifice and consistency, the fact that he worked steadily every day, he improved a lot. He understands the game. He’s a great professional. He earned this; he deserves it.
“He’s very strong, very fast, good in the air. He’s tremendously dynamic and intense in the way he defends. He also strikes the ball cleanly, brings it out from the back well, and he can play on both the right and left.”
The manager also thinks that Gabriel will adjust to English football very quickly. “The leap is much bigger from Brazil to Spain than Spain to England and he has already been through that adaptation process. The Spanish league is a bit more tactical than the Premier League, there are fewer aerial battles and there are fewer tackles, but the levels are similar. I don’t think it’s especially difficult. Most players who go there from here adapt immediately. He’s young, 24, and leading the defence has to come bit by bit, but he’ll do well.”
So that sounds like a glowing reference from his old boss, let’s hope Marcelino is right, although I expect Wenger will give Gabriel loads of time and help to settle in to Londoon life unless we have another spate of injuries!