Arsene Wenger believes Gabriel Paulista is struggling to adapt due to his inability to communicate with his teammates, and claims his lack of English is a real stumbling block.
“I would prefer him to have better English because in the fraction of a second sometimes someone can help you and communicate better,” he said (via Arsenal.com).
“He has Nacho Monreal, who plays next to him who can speak Spanish. I believe that he is working very hard on his English and is improving quite quickly and well.”
Gabriel is unquestionably a talented defender, and he has the physical qualities to be a top quality centre-back. He’s still pretty raw though, and his struggles with English will really hinder him going forward.
The Brazilian was at fault for both Marcus Rashford’s goals this past weekend, with the 25-year-old largely to blame for our 3-2 loss against Manchester United. The rest of the team didn’t exactly perform either, but without the individual errors from Gabriel who knows what could have happened.
It’s obviously a bit much to expect his English to be perfect at this point, but he has been at the club for over a year. Brazilian Portuguese is obviously his mother tongue, although he speaks Spanish after a number of years in La Liga. Monreal, Hector Bellerin, and Petr Cech all obviously speak Spanish, but the most important player Gabriel needs to communicate with is his centre-back partner. Neither Laurent Koscielny nor Per Mertesacker speak Spanish, so Gabriel really needs to improve his English.
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Mertesacker may not be the most athletically gifted individual, and his lack of pace is a real worry at times. His partnership with Koscielny is a strong one though, and until Gabriel gets a better grasp of English we may have to stick with the old pair.