Keown says Gabriel can become Arsenal's best defender but suggests Mertesacker remains vital

The former Arsenal man has been talking about two of their current defensive options.

Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown has been speaking about the Gunners’ centre-back Gabrial Paulista in his weekly column in the Daily Mail.

Keown knows a thing or two about defending having played 333 matches for Arsenal and when he was asked about the Brazilian international he was effusive in his praise.

Paulista arrived at the Emirates Stadium from Spanish club Villarreal back in January and he wasted little time making a positive impression on his new fans.

This season the 24-year-old has featured six times for Arsene Wenger’s side but he was part of the defence that lost consecutive Champions League matches against Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiacos in September.

Despite that Keown is adamant Gabriel will go on to eclipse all the other defensive options current at Wenger’s disposal.

“I’ll put my reputation on the line and say that he could be better than all of Arsenal’s defenders,” Keown told the Daily Mail. “He has all the qualities to be a top centre-half.”

The former Gunner did however go on to suggest that fellow defender Per Mertesacker still has a key role to play for the side, despite Gabriel regularly playing alongside Laurent Koscielny this season.

“Arsenal’s defence have more of a calmness about them when Mertesacker plays,” he added. “I think he’s very important to them.”

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