Belfast Telegraph

Arsene Wenger is backing Gabriel Paulista to be a star at the Emirates

By Jim van Wijk

Arsenal's new Brazilian defender Gabriel Paulista has all the qualities needed to be a big hit in the Premier League, according to manager Arsene Wenger.

The permanent transfer of the 24-year-old from Villarreal was confirmed on Wednesday night after all the formalities of international clearance on a work permit were completed.

Part of the deal, reported to be worth around £15million, sees Costa Rica striker Joel Campbell move in the other direction on loan for the rest of the season.

Wenger admitted Arsenal were short on defensive cover, but although he believes it will take Gabriel time to settle, the Gunners boss insists the player has what it takes to become an integral part of the squad.

"He is a promising Brazilian defender. Just 24 years old and we got the work permit. He has good pace, is good in the challenge and is tall, so he can adapt to English football," Wenger said.

"Maybe it will take some time to adapt completely, but overall it is very good to have him.

"This season he has played every game for Villarreal and we have seen him many times. We are convinced about his quality.

"He is very ambitious, focused and serious. That is important at a club like ours - you need to have a complete focus on your job. He has that.

"I like the players who come from nowhere and show they can adapt. From Brazil, he has (then) adapted to Spain. That means he has already made it and adapted in another country, and so that is another important quality."

Arsenal's preferred central defensive partnership has been Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny.

However, Wenger accepts given the wretched run of injury misfortune, to head into the defining period of the campaign with not enough strength in depth at the back would have been folly.

"We needed some cover, or we would not be responsible," added Wenger. "We needed another centre-back because we have lost (Mathieu) Debuchy. (Nacho) Monreal can play centre-back and we are a bit short there if something happens, especially with the Achilles (problem) of Koscielny since the start of the season."

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