Gabriel Paulista is set to realise his dream of playing in the Premier League, after Arsenal completed the transfer of the Brazilian defender.
Arsene Wenger was keen to bolster his back four during the January transfer window, as the Gunners compete for another top-four league finish, the UEFA Champions League and the FA Cup. It first emerged earlier this month that the French coach had set his sights on Gabriel, who has impressed in Spain since joining Villarreal from Vitoria during the summer of 2013.
The 24-year-old centre-half, who can also play in either fullback position, has now completed his move to the Emirates Stadium club, who have paid the La Liga side a fee of around £13.5million and also allowed striker Joel Campbell to move to El Madrigal on loan for the rest of the season. For Gabriel, this is a dream come true as he has made no secret of his desire to play in England.
“A while ago I had a really huge desire to be able to play in the Premier League, so since that point I put it in my head that I really wanted to do it,” he told the official club website. “I had a talk with my family and I told them that it was my dream to play in the Premier League. I just got this call – Arsenal came to sign me, so to me, for my work, for everything I have been doing, things are just happening for me.
“Something came over me, I can’t explain it… good things, I just wanted to play here in England. Thanks to God, this wonderful club came to me, and they can count on me to be able to help everybody here. Arsenal is a very big team and it must always be competing for the biggest titles in the world. I have to repeat it – Arsenal must fight for all the most important titles around.”
Gabriel has been granted a work permit despite never representing Brazil at full international level, and is expected to be handed the number five shirt at his new club. He was considered to be the key man in a Villarreal defence which has conceded just 17 goals in 19 league matches this season, and he could now make his Gunners debut at home to Aston Villa on Sunday afternoon.