Five facts on Arsenal’s rumoured La Liga transfer target Gabriel Paulista

Villarreal defender Gabriel Paulista has emerged as a potential transfer target for Arsenal but what do we know about him? Here are five key facts.

1. Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Gabriel Paulista started his career with Bahia-based Brazilian side EC Vitoria, making over 130 appearances for the club and scoring seven goals during a four-season stay.

During that time, he celebrated success with EC Vitoria, winning the Campeonato Baiano state championship on two occasions as well as the Copa do Nordeste, a regional cup competition.

He also received the individual award for the best defender in the Campeonato Baiano in the 2012 and 2013 campaigns, subsequently moving to Villarreal on a five-year deal for £2.9 million.

2. Previously praised for both his excellent pace and ball control, the defender, who is known best simply as Gabriel, has also proven to be excellent in the air and is capable of playing anywhere across the back-line, having been deployed as both a centre-half and also full-back on either flank in the past.

Now in his second season in Spain, the Brazilian recently admitted it took time for him to adjust to the demands of football in La Liga.

"Last season was a season of adaptation, it was a big change in everything," he explained to Inside Spanish Football.

"Now it’s different and I’ve already adapted to the game and the training. Because of that I hope it will be better."

3. Gabriel earned plenty of plaudits in La Liga last term after keeping then-Atletico Madrid star Diego Costa at bay during a 1-1 draw between the Rojiblancos and Villarreal, with the Brazilian defender playing a key role in denying the current Chelsea hot shot.

"I was very tough and it was a great duel with a great player. Diego Costa is a great player and as a South American player, he’s a player who works really hard and very difficult to stop. Thanks to God, he didn’t score!" He told Inside Spanish Football at the time.

4. The South American stopper was a YouTube hit last season after scoring a rather unfortunate own goal against Barcelona in La Liga.

Villarreal were 2-0 up at home to the Catalan club at the time with just 25 minutes left, however disaster then struck with Gabriel defecting a cross past keeper Sergio Asenjo to give Barca a route back into the game.

Barcelona pulled level 14 minutes later via another own goal before Lionel Messi made it 3-2 to the visitors with just seven minutes remaining.

5. Gabriel appears to be open to the idea of a Premier League move, having previously commented on the rumours surrounding teammate Mateo Musacchio, who was previously linked with Tottenham.

"The idea is to continue to compete at a high level, and among the best of the league," he told Inside Spanish Football.

"The important thing is that what happens is best for all. If he [Musacchio] thinks that the best option for him and his family is to leave, I understand it. I’m certain that the club will look for the best solution if it needs to reinforce."

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