The deal is finally done. Gabriel Paulista has hailed the chance to play in the Premier League as a dream come true after joining Arsenal from Villarreal, with striker Joel Campbell going to the Spanish club on loan for the rest of the season. The 24-year-old Brazilian centre back was granted a work permit despite not yet having played for his country and joins Arsene Wenger’s side for £11.2million on a four-and-a-half year deal. ‘I want to thank God for the opportunity,’ he told the club’s website. ‘Thanks to God, this wonderful club came to me, and they can count on me to be able to help everybody here.’
Arsenal also confirmed that Campbell’s loan deal was complete, but delivered the surprise news that the 22-year-old Costa Rica striker had signed a new, long-term contract before heading to Spain. Gabriel, who will earn a basic salary of around £60,000-a-week at the Emirates, admitted that playing in the Premier League was a dream come true and revealed that he joined Arsenal after a personal request to sign by Wenger. ‘I came on his request, on the coach’s request,’ he told the club’s website. ‘He asked to sign me and that gives me more strength and the will to be able to work. I see that he’s a coach that has been here for many years and this is important, not only for the team but also for the club. This is very important for everyone that works here in the club, to have a coach like this.’
Despite the praise for his new boss, Gabriel also sees signs that Arsenal need to get better and improve on their performances so far this season. Gabriel will primarily compete with the likes of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker for a place at centre-half, a task he admits is ‘not going to be easy’ – but he can also play on the right or left side of the backline.
About a week back Arsenal completed the signing of 17-year-old midfielder Krystian Bielik from Legia Warsaw for an undisclosed fee. Bielik made his senior debut for the Polish club in August aged 16. He went on to feature five times for Legia in the league and once in the Europa League. The versatile Poland youth international can play in both holding midfield and at centre-back. Bielik, 17, who underwent his medical at Arsenal last week, signed for Legia from their Polish rivals Lech Poznan in July and has made six appearances in all competitions this season.