Gabriel Paulista on the verge of signing for Arsenal

Villarreal defender close to Emirates switch (©GettyImages)

Arsene Wenger appears close to making his first signing of the January window as Villarreal's Gabriel Paulista is granted a work permit.

Now that the UK work permit paperwork has been completed, Arsenal should be able to wrap up the transfer to bolster a much-maligned back-line. 

The Brazilian will represent something of a coup for Wenger with Manchester United reportedly interested in the central defender that Thierry Henry has described as 'a special talent'.  

Wenger gave Arsenal fans a taste of what to expect from the potential new signing when he described him as "tall and pacey with good potential".

However, Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas has made clear that Arsenal fans may need to be patient with Gabriel as he adapts to the rigours of the Premier League.

Nicholas stated that Paulista is getting better, but remains "very raw". He also questioned whether the defender is a typical ball-playing defender that may suit Arsenal's style of play when he stated that Villarreal play an Arsenal-type pass and move game, but added he's not a natural passing centre-back. He does, however, have a huge physical presence.

Arsenal have been crying out for a new defender following the summer departure of club captain Thomas Vermaelen to Barcelona. At the time, Wenger did not directly replace the Belgian and it has left the club short in central defensive positions with the likes of Nacho Monreal having to fill in at times. 

Arsenal are beginning to find some form with a highly praised performance against Manchester City at the Etihad in the Premier League and the FA Cup victory against Brighton at the weekend.

The addition of Gabriel would go some way to help the Gunners defend their FA cup crown and challenge for at least the Champions League spots in the Premier League. 

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