Gabriel has Premier League quality


Published: Friday 30th January 2015 by The News Editor

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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is confident Gabriel Paulista has what to takes to become a top centre-back in the Barclays Premier League, and will not be the next Brazilian ‘PlayStation’ player like David Luiz.

The 24-year-old completed a permanent transfer from Villarreal earlier this week following international clearance, with Costa Rica striker Joel Campbell heading in the other direction on loan for the rest of the season as part of a deal said to be worth £11.5million.

Luiz often saw his performances come under scrutiny for being too attack-minded, with pundit Gary Neville likening him to a being like he “was controlled by a 10-year-old on a PlayStation” following Chelsea’s defeat to Liverpool in November 2011.

While Luiz, who joined Paris St Germain for £40million ahead of the 2014 World Cup, is an established member of the Brazil squad, Gabriel has yet to earn himself a place in national team set-up, but Wenger has every confidence that will come as the player remains focused on improving his game.

Wenger said: “Gabriel is a different style to David Luiz, who looked more as a defensive midfielder, rather than a centre-back, because of his level of concentration and his dynamic (play) going forward.

“I think Gabriel is a typical defender.

“David Luiz you didn’t know if he was a midfielder, as he had the potential always to play.

“Gabriel is a more typical defender. He is a real defender, who wants to defend.”

Wenger was impressed by the potential of Gabriel from scouting the player in Spain.

The Arsenal manager revealed the club’s statistical research via the American-based sports data performance analysis company StatDNA, which was bought for £2.16million in December 2012, also indicated it was a move worth making.

“He has good stats. We look at interceptions, defensive errors, winning tackles, set-piece receptions, these kind of things (but still) the most important thing is through the eye,” said Wenger.

“That is what we look for, of course, because it is difficult to watch all the games.

“If the numbers confirm the eye, it gives you more.

“If a scout comes home and says ‘I have seen a good player’, you can statistically observe this player for five, six or seven games.

“You send him again, he comes back and says ‘he is a good player’, and the numbers confirm (this), you can say the risk is limited, there is, though, always a risk.”

Wenger added: “We have our own system, with qualities we think are important. After that, you have the attitude of the player (to consider) – because you can have good stats for a while, but if you go out every night until 6 o’clock in the morning, it won’t last.”

Part of the work permit approval stipulated Gabriel must take English lessons to help his integration, and Wenger revealed the club would use some of their own native Portuguese staff as well as Spanish speakers to help the player settle in London with his young family.

Wenger believes the temperament of Gabriel’s upbringing in Brazil will be a positive influence to the challenges ahead.

“He is from Sao Paulo. You have Rio players and Sao Paulo. One is a beach area and one is more hard working,” the Arsenal manager said.

“Gabriel can play right-back or left-back, that is another factor which was important for us.”

Wenger remains confident Gabriel will soon become accustomed to his new environment.

The French coach recalled the time he signed Brazilian defender Alexandre Torres while manager of Nagoya Grampus Eight – a deal which brought something of a surprise during the transfer negotiations with the player’s most famous representative.

“I got so many tapes (of players), that I watched them in the hotel and I saw him (Torres), I asked, ‘who is he?’, so the next day I said ‘bring this guy I want to take him’,” Wenger said.

“The next day the player came along with a guy. I looked at him and said ‘I know your face from somewhere? – and his agent was (former Brazil 1970 World Cup winning captain) Carlos Alberto, his father.”

Published: Friday 30th January 2015 by The News Editor

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