Gabriel Paulista - Player Profile

Paulista To Sure Up Arsenal Defence

Personal information
Full name: Gabriel Armando de Abreu
Date of birth: 26 November 1990
Age: 24
Place of birth: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Height: 1.87 m (6 ft 1 1⁄2 in)
Playing position: Centre back

Club information 
Current team: Arsenal 

Youth career 2009: Taboao da Serra 
2009–2010 Vitoria

Senior career2010–2013: Vitoria 141 Appearances, 1 goal
2013–2015: Villarreal 50 Appearances, 0 goals
2015– Arsenal 0 Appearances, 0 goals

Arsenal have announced the signing of Brazilian defender Gabriel Paulista on a long-term deal from Spanish side Villarreal for an estimated 11.2 million pounds. Gabriel is the man that the Gunners have set their sights on and a deal has now been completed for the 24-year-old. Arsenal may have found the defender for whom they have been looking for so long. One who loves defending; rarely gets injured, whose leap gets him to most headers, whose stride carries him confidently out of defence and whose rapid development has earned Villarreal a huge profit in less than two years.

Born in Sao Paulo, Gabriel Paulista started his top-flight career with Esporte Clube Vitoria, graduating through the youth set-up before making his league debut in 2010 aged 19. Later that same year he appeared in the Copa do Brasil final as a right-back against Santos, which Vitoria lost over two legs, where he was tasked with dealing with Barcelona star Neymar. Three years later Gabriel helped Vitoria to the 2013 Campeonato Baiano title, having been utilised on the left and right-hand side of a three-man backline. After establishing himself as a regular at Vitoria and augmenting his reputation among European scouts. He was voted the best central defender in the tournament and in August 2013 signed a five-year contract with Villarreal for£2.5million. Three months later he made his debut in a draw with eventual champions Atletico Madrid and has not looked back. Gabriel's style of play is thought to be ideally suited to the demands of the Premier League. The Brazilian's performances this season contributed significantly to Villarreal’s recent surge up to sixth in the table and progress through to the Copa del Rey quarter-finals – leading the team to a 17-game unbeaten run. The Yellow Submarines boasted one of the meanest defences in the division having conceded just 17 goals from 20 matches and Gabriel was at the heart of that backline. The defender’s versatility will have appealed to Wenger; Gabriel is mainly right-footed but is also able to operate at left back as he has done so on two occasions for Villarreal this term. The player has also built a glowing reputation as a powerful, pacy, ball-playing central defender who reads the game brilliantly, is strong in the air and capable of man-marking if required. Those attributes would appear to make Gabriel ideally suited to the physical demands of the Premier League yet he remains a player with great potential who is far from the finished product. This may explain why Brazil have so far resisted the temptation to hand him a first call-up to the national team. There was a clamour among the local journalists to know what type of defender they were getting when Gabriel turned up at Villarreal. He's definitely quick — both in his legs and his head. On the ball, as must be one of Wenger's prerequisites, he’s able to play the sort of football which will be conducive to Arsenal's style. His flexibility across defence — he’s played in a back three and as a full-back, but is more used to playing in the middle of a back four — will be a welcome addition to an Arsenal side that have been forced into cobbling together several unfamiliar combinations at the back this season. But in time, once he’s settled into life in England, the reported fee states he’ll be expected to become a key figure in the side.

Villarreal’s finances could allow them to turn down €15m (£11.2m) offers for players who cost just €3.5m 18 months ago, but still they insisted on Joel Campbell being part of the deal, such was the reluctance to part with Gabriel. The defender was invited into the team photo for one last time at the weekend as he delivered his emotional goodbye to supporters. He is aggressive, not just defensively but in terms of attacking set pieces, and is versatile enough to play at left-back when Villarreal have needed him there. For a team who have had to play left-back Nacho Monreal in the centre of defence this season, he will be a welcome addition to an Arsenal dressing room that, fortunately for him, is not short of Spanish speakers. Gabriel will settle quickly; he knows this is his big chance. Gabriel had been ever-present for Villarreal in La Liga this season and is match-fit, although it is acknowledged by Wenger that a period of adjustment to English football is likely to be necessary. Wenger, though, will want Gabriel ready as quickly as possible as Arsenal prepare to compete across three competitions over the coming weeks.