Arsenal’s long pursuit of Brazilian defender Gabriel Paulista has paid off as the 24-year-old has signed a long-term contract with the Gunners.
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Gabriel has arrived from La Liga outfit Villarreal for a fee believed to be around $20 million as the release clause in his contract was met. Gunners boss Arsene Wenger hasn’t been keeping his search for a new central defender secret and has finally landed his man after Gabriel had to go through a work permit appeal, which he won, to seal his move to the Premier League.
During his time at Villarreal the center back, who can also play in both full back positions, Gabriel played 21 times in 2013-14 and has played in all 19 of the Yellow Submarines La Liga matches this term. Throughout this campaign Villarreal’s defense, marshaled by Gabriel, has been water-tight as they’ve conceded just 17 goals so far.
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The former Vitoria player hails from Sao Paulo and can’t wait to get started in north London after a long, winding road to N7.
“A while ago I had a really huge desire to play in the Premier League, so since that point I put it in my head that I really wanted to do it,” Gabriel said. “I had a talk with my family and I told them that it was my dream to play in the Premier League. Getting here to such a big club is so gratifying.”
What does his arrival mean in the short-term?
The Brazilian will add much-needed depth as Arsenal only had Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny as recognized center backs in their current squad. Gabriel may well oust Mertesacker in the long run, as the 30-year-old German international has looked increasingly shaky at time for the Gunners this season. It may also mean Wenger could switch to a three-man central defense, but such a drastic change in his tactics may be saved for further down the line if he aims to keep Gabriel, Mertesacker and Koscielny happy.
Arsenal’s fan, pundits and everyone else in-between have been screaming out for months for Wenger to buy a center back and now he’s done it.
Next on the list for Mr. Wenger: a holding midfielder.