According to the latest reports from Spanish publication Marca, Arsenal have made a firm approach for Villarreal’s Gabriel Paulista.
The centre-back has only been with the La Liga outfit for 18 months, joining the club in the summer of 2013 from Vitoria of Brazil.
Yet, a number of strong performances at the heart of the defence alongside Mateo Musacchio seem to have prompted the Gunners to take a strong interest in acquiring him during the January transfer window.
Highly-rated and relatively young at just 24-years-old, Gabriel Paulista – commonly referred to as Gabriel - could represent a fine piece of business by Arsene Wenger with his talent evident.
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As per the table provided by Opta Stats, when comparing the Brazilian ace to star defender Laurent Koscielny he certainly comes out in a positive light.
He has started 18 La Liga matches this season, proving a defensive rock by averaging 0.8 tackles, 3.5 interceptions and 4.5 effective clearances per game.
Koscielny, on the other hand, has posted almost identical results over his 12 Premier League starts this season - averaging 0.83 tackles, 3.5 interceptions and 4.75 effective clearances per game.
In aerial duels, Gabriel comes out on top by averaging 2.5 per match whereas both defenders record a very similar number of fouls per encounter.
One area which is vitally important for an Arsene Wenger team is the ability to be able to bring the ball out of defence and retain possession – something Koscielny and Per Mertesacker accomplish well.
While Gabriel’s 84.4% pass success is below the current centre-back pairing at the Emirates, it certainly isn’t a low and off-putting figure and could easily be improved on given time.
The North Londoners have under 10 days if they wish to complete a winter deal for Gabriel, and judging by his performances this season his addition could ultimately be the key to finishing in the top four.
However, the Gunners may find they face work permit issues if they do complete a deal with Villarreal.