Gabriel Paulista Left Out Of Villarreal Squad As Arsenal Move Inches Closer
It seems that Arsenal are edging closer to a deal for Gabriel Paulista of Villarreal. The Brazilian was left out of the squad to face Levante this weekend and after Wenger's comments suggesting that discussions were taking place, a transfer is seemingly imminent. The only snag, as is the case with many non-EU citizens, is getting the defender a work permit. But if Arsenal's legal team are up to the task, they should be able to provide Paulista with a 'special talent' permit and thus finalise a deal.
Villarreal's manager Mercelino also said this week that "Everything indicates the negotiation is going one way…" Which again hints that Arsenal are close to getting their man.
The 24-year-old Paulista seems a perfect fit for Arsenal. A strong, fast and intelligent centre back in the mould of Laurent Koscielny would allow Arsenal to rotate their central defence much more effectively and efficiently. As we know, the Mertesacker and Koscielny partnership is a solid one and it is thus because of the dynamic between the two players. Mertesacker's excellent reading of the game and Koscielny's machine-like physical attributes make for a formidable combination. The reason why having a player like Paulista would be so useful is because Callum Chambers is more in the mould of Mertesacker. When the Englishmen arrived in the summer, he played excellently at centre back and similarities between him and the BFG could immediately be seen. Paulista offers Arsène Wenger the option of four central defensive combinations that are tactically sound.
With Laurent Koscielny's fitness being as delicate as it is, Paulista also offers Arsenal a like-for-like alternative which would enable the Frenchman to fully recover, instead of stepping into the breach pumped full of adrenaline shots. Although Arsenal's injury woes have continued this season, players seem to be returning earlier and stronger as a result of the new Shad Forsythe strength and conditioning regime. With that in mind, giving Koscielny the time he needs to strengthen would be hugely beneficial.
Paulista's arrival would also mean that Arsenal's full-backs could get on with being full-backs instead of pretending to be centre-backs. As good as Monreal and the now injured Debuchy looked in the middle, it defeats the point of having strength in depth in every position if all the players are being played all the time. And with the season crawling through a taxing period for the players, efficient rotation is essential.
A final reason why Arsenal fans may be glad to see Paulista join the ranks is the fact that he's South American. The Premier League has seen a huge influx of players from South America in recent years and they generally seem to thrive here in England. As aforementioned with reference to Arsenal's Brazilian target, work permits can prove a stumbling block, but if they're worth the hassle. Paulista brings with him the grit and determination we so often see (and admire) in South Americans and it may help him settle much quicker, considering he'll no doubt be thrown in at the deep end of the season.
So, if the move does go ahead, it seems like it'll be a very good one for Arsenal. Sensible business at the right time is something the North London club's fans have craved in recent years and it would be refreshing to see.