LONDON (AFP) – Arsene Wenger believes his swoop for Brazilian defender Gabriel Paulista could prove a turning point in Arsenal’s battle to qualify for the Champions League.
Wenger splashed out £11.5 million (US$17 million) to sign Gabriel from Villarreal earlier this week and the 24-year-old could make his debut against Aston Villa at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
Gabriel’s arrival comes with Arsenal in the midst of a tense struggle to book their place in next season’s Champions League via a top-four finish in the Premier League.
The fifth placed Gunners trail fourth placed Manchester United by one point and are also scrapping with Southampton and Tottenham for the coveted berths in Europe’s elite club competition.
But, after a series of injuries threatened to undermine Arsenal’s already fragile back-four, Wenger is confident Gabriel will be able to immediately solidify his defence, even though he doesn’t speak a word of English yet.
“He is a specialist at centre-back and with the fixtures we have in front of us, that is needed,” Wenger said.
“What I saw was a great quality for a defender, his level of concentration.
“He is physically able to adapt to the Premier League because he is quite a good size and is quick as well, has great commitment in the challenges and is a good age for a central defender as well.
“You always need time to adapt, especially in a defensive position because you need to know your partners.
“At the moment he does not speak a word of English and that can cost you goals, if you mix going forwards with going backwards, so you need to you need to communicate.
“We try to teach the important words, for example — offside or look at the linesman!