Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has admitted that he's concerned the language barrier will prevent January signing Gabriel Paulista from making a strong start to his career with the Gunners.
Wenger spent £11.3 million on the Brazilian defender last month, primarily to provide cover for the over-worked centre-back pairing of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker.
Gabriel is at a major disadvantage before he kicks a ball though, with Wenger conceding that he's never signed a player in his position that can't speak a single word of English.
Talk about piling on the pressure
Wenger believes that in defence the problems that can arise from not being able to communicate properly are far more serious than in any other position, telling The Guardian: “Look, it is a problem. When you don’t speak English and you don’t understand: ‘Come out, come back, right, left,’ it is a problem for a defender. You need to know the key words: ‘Referee. Offside. Foul’.
“He’s the first defender I’ve brought in with no English. In terms of other players, José Reyes was not fantastic with his English, even when he left. But Thierry Henry arrived here and three months later, he was fluent in English. Some learn quickly. For some people, it takes longer. Gabriel is very focused. We’ll see.”
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Wenger attempting to downplay expectations
Gabriel has two weeks full training under his belt at London Colney and is now ready to make his debut, which should come against Middlesbrough in tomorrow's FA Cup fifth-round tie at the Emirates.
Wenger is clearly attempting to keep expectations low ahead of Gabriel's Arsenal bow, but with Koscielny struggling all season long with tendinitis in his Achilles there's little breathing room to adapt to life in the Premier League.
Thankfully for Gabriel he has a manager who thought the gamble on his raw potential was worth taking, so Arsenal fans can expect strong performances with a physical, pro-active style of defending from the outset.
Do Arsenal fans think Gabriel was the right signing, or should Wenger have gone for a man with proven Premier League experience like Winston Reid? Let us know in the comment box below.