Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger could hand Gabriel Paulista his Premier League debut against Aston Villa on Sunday, reports the Daily Star.
The same report claims Paulista has passed a medical at London Colney and is on the verge of completing his move to the Gunners. Arsenal agreed an £11.3 million fee with Villarreal with Joel Campbell moving the other way on loan.
The Home Office granted Paulista a work permit on Monday despite him not meeting the 75 per cent criteria for the amount of internationals a non-EU player has to play. Instead, Arsenal put together a case for Paulista being an 'exceptional talent' despite him never representing his country Brazil at any level.
Paulista has also chosen the number five shirt, worn by several notable Arsenal stars such as Steve Bould, Martin Keown and Kolo Toure. But the club have still not announced the completion of the deal.
But Arsenal have until Friday to register Paulista, which will enable him to play against Aston Villa. The Gunners are likely to get the necessary paperwork completed in time with the versatile defender likely to be included in the squad.
Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny are both fit to start but the latter has been struggling with a chronic issue with his achilles tendons all season. Wenger may have to rest the France international meaning Paulista could go straight into the starting XI.
However, the 6ft 1in defender is likely to get a cameo performance from the bench if Arsenal are comfortable with 15 minutes or so left on the clock. They are expected to beat Paul Lambert's men easily and a scoreline of 3-0 would give Paulista a pressure-free environment to make his bow in front of 60,000 fans.
Krystian Bielik, who has already completed a move to Arsenal in the current transfer window, is unlikely to feature as he continues to build up his match fitness. The Polish league was in its winter break, and while the 17-year-old will be part of the first-team, he won't be considered for games for at least the next three weeks.
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