Arsenal’s new signing Gabriel is tailoring his English lessons to help him learn the keywords he needs on a football pitch.
Brazilian Gabriel Paulista signed for the Gunners in January for £11.2million and only spoke very basic English. He wouldn’t let that stop him from playing his usual game when he got the chance on the pitch though.
Gabriel started Arsenal’s FA Cup fifth-round victory against Middlesborough on Sunday and lined up alongside Frenchman Laurent Koscielny at the heart of the Gunners’ defence.
He told Arsenal.com: “In relation to understanding my team-mates, I always wanted to be tuned into what Laurent Koscielny was doing so I could try doing the same. I tried to listen to him as well, to listen to a few words.”
To help him get to grips with the language he has been having private English lessons to help make his transition from Villarreal to Arsenal go a lot smoother.
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He said: “In my English lessons I always ask the teacher to teach me the main words we use on the pitch, like ‘defend, leave, go back’.
“So I had no difficulty with my defensive partner. We understood each other really well, and the most important thing is that we managed to win the game.”
Before Gabriel made the switch to the North London club in January, he was an ever-present in a Villarreal team that only conceded 17 goals in their first 19 La Liga games this season and went on an impressive 18-game unbeaten run.
As impressive as Gabriel was in that Villarreal team before he moved, joining Arsenal is a bit of a step up. But the Brazilian was nothing but relaxed when he made his debut.
The defender said: “When I was told I would play I felt really calm, then on matchday I was still calm.
“As soon as we got to the stadium I felt butterflies in my stomach because I think it is normal for every player to feel that way. The day you stop feeling nervous is the day you should stop playing football.
“I had that feeling but as soon as I stepped on the pitch it was all gone. The feeling in my stomach went away. I saw that wonderful crowd, that great show, that beautiful stadium and the game became quite relaxed.”
For quite a while, even before this season, it was clear that Arsenal needed to strengthen at the back with the partnership of Per Mertesacker and Koscielny as well as the likes of Calum Chambers under-performing.
It was a defence that lacked leadership and confidence and was often left looking exposed. Arsene Wenger had to do something and signing the 24-year-old Brazilian was a shrewd move. There is no doubt that Gabriel has the potential and talent to develop in top defender for the Gunners.
For the time being Arsenal seem more assured at the back, and playing well and look to be a favourite for a top four spot, especially with the attacking prowess they possess.
Only time will tell as Gabriel gets more playing time if he can be the one to sure up the Arsenal defence.