Arsene Wenger is expecting Gabriel to prove his worth next season after undergoing his adaptation period following his January move from Villarreal, the boss told our official website (via Arsenal.com).
Gabriel was eased into the team on a number of occasions last term as Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker resumed their formidable partnership with the former suffering from an Achilles tendon injury at the beginning of the campaign.
After starting last season with the just two recognised central defenders, the arrival of Gabriel strengthened the squad and has given us real depth at the back.
However, Wenger expects the Brazilian to stake a claim for a first-team place next season.
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“I also think Gabriel will be a revelation,” Wenger was quoted as saying.
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“He didn’t have many chances this season, but I am convinced he will be a top player.”
With Mertesacker entering the twilight of his career, Wenger may be tempted to partner Gabriel with Koscielny next season in a defensive pairing full of pace.
As we tend to adopt a high pressing game, especially at home, Mertesacker’s lack of pace is often exposed. Therefore, having two defenders with blistering recovery pace may benefit us next season.
At 24, Gabriel is yet to reach his prime and can be regarded as a long-term replacement for Mertesacker.