By Tony Attwood
So it seems we are about to buy or have just bought the 24 year old Villarreal central defender Gabriel Paulista and the visa will be granted under the “special talent” rule. At least that is the message that seems to be there (but one can never be sure until it is done!)
Villarreal will be taking Joel Campbell on loan for the rest of the season. This leaves us with Giroud, Welbeck and Akpom as the out and out strikers with Sanogo (who has won considerable praise at Palace) able to be recalled from Palace if we suffer another attack of injuries.
The build up to the transfer has been typical of the invention of the media with stories of the fee ranging from £6m upwards to £18m. Whatever the fee Villareal will pay Arsenal some of the money back in return for the loan of Campbell.
Here’s our new man’s details
Gabriel Armando de Abreu was born on 26 November 1990 in São Paulo. He made his first team debut on 7 March 2010, and his Brazilian Série A debut on 15 May that year.
After this transfer to Spain he made his debut in La Liga on 10 November 2013 and has played both as a central defender and as a right back.
Ahead of the signing Arsene Wenger said: “Paulista is a central defender but he can also play on the flanks. He is tall and pacy. He has a good chance to adapt to English football. I see good potential in him.
“The deal could be done before the FA Cup draw (today).”
The comments about him are that his is really quick and good in the air can recover quickly from errors on the pitch and indeed can recover quickly from injury – which given that he is a defender playing for Arsenal is now an essential qualification.
While speaking Mr W also added about sunday’s game.
“Rosický was wonderful. If you love football you love Rosický. On top of that he is a fantastic character. I am pleased for him.”
Meanwhile we can see the new TV approach. Having watched the aaa and their journalist pals move over to a “you are only as good as your last match” approach TV has now upped the game to “you are only as good as your last ten minutes” as the commentators endlessly turned their previous thoughts about the state of play, upside down.
Retaliating the press are now full of the infinite array of talent Arsenal has. In desperate need of new signings? Forget it. Arsenal’s problem is “keeping everyone happy”.
Mr Wenger is indirectly quoted as saying he has never had so many creative options at this stage of a campaign.
Everywhere we look (apparently) there are multiple choices, and players so flexible they can move around. The options are endless – until of course the cloggers come along with their refereeing allies and kick everyone to bits again.
But just think further on Tomáš Rosický for a moment, because through all his long term injury problems, Arsenal kept faith in him. And how that faith has been repaid over and over again. He joined us in 2006 and he’s now an old man (well 34) but buzzing like a youngster full of the desire to show the world his skills. And he’s played over 160 games for us too.
I know that there are many people who say that we’ve wasted money on Diaby, trying get him fit through all these years, and in a universe in which one can see the future, that is true – at least in terms of running a commercial enterprise. But of course we can’t see the future – not of Diaby nor of Rosický. We could have said, after 2008/9 in which he didn’t play, that’s it, enough, go. But I’m glad we didn’t.
And the fact that we didn’t makes other players more likely to look positively at Arsenal. Where clubs get a reputation for treating their players well and honestly, players are more likely to come. Of course it is mostly about money, but who your employer is still counts.
So now we have our new team, playing in a match in which, as the Telegraph says, “In one first-half counter-attack, six Arsenal players galloped from their own half as if in a private sprint trial. They poured all over Brighton’s retreating defence.”
This isn’t the 1-0 to the Arsenal, shut up shop style of play of the Graham era, this is re-building the era from the second double through to the invincibles. (And before anyone says, ‘this team is nothing like the invincibles’ of course they aren’t. I am saying, this is a process, a process that has comparisons – as I have said before – akin to the second double season.)
So, while Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Southampton, Tottenham and Manchester Utd drop a player or three and fail to win, even when at home, we leave out Alexis Sanchez, Santi Cazorla, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck, Mikel Arteta and Francis Coquelin (some through injury some through choice), and have a jolly time in the Sussex Downs.
We don’t have Thierry Henry and Robert Pires, that is true, but in 1997/8 as the first Wenger Period began we didn’t. We had the new comers like Vieira, Anelka and Overmars, the burning brightness of Bergkamp and the fading lights like Wright, Keown and Platt. A team evolving.
These are not perfect parallels, and I am (I must repeat) not predicting that we will do a Double, but rather I think there are parallels in the build up. We did not buy the invincibles in one swoop, and some players who we hoped to stay (like Anelka) decided they wanted to leave. It is a bit like now. But that team evolved – as this one is.
As Chris Hughton of Brighton said: “A difference with Arsenal now to a couple of years ago was that when they made changes they might bring in youngsters, but now they’re bringing experienced players in and they have greater depth to their squad.”
Which made me look at the “25” list of players. Last night I posted a comment without checking (always a stupid thing to do) suggesting we had used up our 25, but we haven’t because I failed to remember exactly who is and who is not 21 years old. Here is the list of the old boys, with * meaning home grown.
- Arteta Amatriain, Mikel
- Cazorla, Santiago
- *Coquelin, Francis
- Debuchy, Mathieu
- Diaby, Vassiriki Abou
- Flamini, Mathieu
- *Gibbs, Kieran James Ricardo
- Giroud, Olivier
- Koscielny, Laurent
- *Martinez, Damian Emiliano
- Mertesacker, Per
- Monreal, Ignacio
- Ospina, David
- Ozil, Mesut
- *Ramsey, Aaron James
- Rosicky, Tomas
- Sanchez, Alexis
- *Szczesny, Wojciech Tomasz
- *Walcott, Theo James
- *Welbeck, Daniel
- *Wilshere, Jack Andrew
The relevant under-21 players are
- Afobe, Benik
- Bellerin, Hector
- Chambers, Calum
- Crowley, Daniel
- Gnabry, Serge David
- Hayden, Isaac Scot
- Maitland-Niles, Ainsley
- Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alexander Mark David
- Toral, Jon-Miquel
- Vickers, Josh
- Zelalem, Gedion
Plus our other newcomer Krystian Bielik.
So tons of space still in the squad – well three more places if we want to go further.
I feel quite confident.
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Anniversary of the day
26 January 1925: The second replay of the FA Cup match that was the scene of the Arsenal drugs scandal. The curious thing is that the drugs came from a totally unreliable source.