New signing Paulista nothing like David Luiz - Wenger
Both are Brazilian centre-backs, they began their careers at the same club and both have now made moves to England. But that is where the similarities between Gabriel Paulista and David Luiz end, Arsene Wenger assured Arsenal fans yesterday.
Wenger this week became the first Premier League manager to recruit a central defender from Brazil since Luiz left Chelsea at the end of last season.
But the newcomer, who could make his debut in tomorrow's match against Aston Villa, could not be more different from the man Gary Neville infamously dismissed as a 'PlayStation' player.
"Gabriel is a different style to that," Wenger said. "David Luiz looked more as a defensive midfielder, rather than a centre-back, because of his level of concentration and his dynamic 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 real defender, who wants to defend."
That will come as a relief to Arsenal supporters, who have been crying out for Wenger to bolster that area of the team all season and certainly would not have had someone like Luiz in mind. What I saw was a great quality for a defender, his level of concentration," Wenger said of his £11.3m recruit from Villarreal.
"He's physically able to adapt to the Premier League because he is quite a good size and is quick as well, he has great commitment in the challenges and he's young."
And Wenger has the statistics to prove it, admitting Gabriel's signing had been determined in part by the US-based analytics company Arsenal acquired two years ago, StatDNA.
The Frenchman was guarded about something which has become the club's secret weapon in the transfer market.
"I cannot tell you all, but he has good stats," Wenger said of Gabriel. "We look at interceptions, defensive errors, winning tackles. Set-piece receptions. The most important thing is through the eye. If the numbers confirm the eye, it gives you more."
Gabriel (24) did not qualify automatically for a work permit. Wenger attended the appeal hearing at which a panel deemed the defender worthy of an "exceptional talent"visa.
Gabriel is set to be Arsenal's only January signing while Alexis Sanchez is carrying a knock and is "unlikely" to be risked against Villa.(© Daily Telegraph, London)
Arsenal v Aston Villa, Live, Sky Sports 1, tomorrow, 1.30