On Wednesday, the BBC reported Arsenal had signed the Villarreal defender for £11.2 million with Joel Campbell going the other way on loan until the end of the season. The 24-year-old was immediately handed the number 5 shirt formerly worn by Vermaelen and according to Balague the likeliness doesn’t stop there.
‘’I was saying to Marcelino [manager of Villarreal] that he [Gabriel Paulista] reminds me of Thomas Vermaelen but he said that Gabriel was more like Laurent Koscielny,’’ said Balague.
‘’Like both of them, when he first arrived at the club he was a bit light and had to get strong, but in terms of centre-back qualities, he’s there.
‘’He’s had a very good season and it’s a really big blow for Villarreal to lose him.’’
The Brazilian-born defender, who will join up with Mertesacker and Koscielny at the heart of the Arsenal defence, has been lauded by Arsene Wenger prior to his arrival and he is said to have the belief that he can go all the way to the top.
How soon can fans expect to see Gabriel Paulista make his debut for Arsenal?
This season, the former Vitoria stopper has been ever-present for Villarreal and will hope to continue in a similar vein at Arsenal.
However, considering the competition in defence, he may have to prove himself to Wenger first before he gets the chance to line-up alongside his new teammates in an Arsenal shirt, and with the derby against Spurs in a fortnight, the manager may not want to throw him into that before he is ready.
Although a squad place may be too soon for him with the North London side, he will at least be able to say hello to his new supporters when Arsenal host Aston Villa on Sunday in the early kick-off.