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Arsenal’s Gabriel Paulista is a great player, says his Villarreal replacement

Villarreal’s Eric Bailly has spoken out on the task of replacing defender Gabriel Paulista, who is currently on the books of Arsenal.

Villarreal’s new signing Eric Bailly has said that Arsenal’s latest recruit Gabriel Paulista is a great player, Spanish publication AS reports.

The Gunners strengthened their backline during the January transfer window with the acquisition of Brazilian star Gabriel Paulista, signing the defender from Villarreal.

The anticipated transfer of Gabriel often appeared to hang in the balance as the deadline loomed near, but the La Liga side’s ability to identify a quick replacement helped to get the deal over the line.

As reported by the Spanish club’s official website, former Espanyol man Bailly switched to the El Madrigal Stadium on 29 January, only a day after Paulista’s transfer to the Gunners became official.

The young Ivorian defender has yet to represent his new club, but he spoke ahead of his possible debut this weekend about how he intends to try his best in order to replace the Gunners’ new signing.

"Gabriel is a great player, but I haven't seen that much of him. I will try to do everything possible to achieve what other players have done here,” he told AS.

The North London outfit's new recruit has yet to make his debut for the club, although boss Arsene Wenger admitted on Friday that he isn’t far off a first-team appearance.

“He’s very close [to making his debut]. He likes to defend. It’s more and more difficult to find people like that,” Wenger was quoted as saying by the Guardian.

“[He is] a player who has overall good qualities: good pace, good in the air, good in one against one. But it’s best I don’t talk too much and let him play and he shows how good he is.”

Gabriel, 24, made 50 appearances for Villarreal in all competitions and will be remembered fondly after helping the club to an astounding 18-game unbeaten run in the first half of this campaign.

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