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EXCLUSIVE! Interview with Arsenal defender Gabriel Paulista

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Gabriel Paulista has been in England for over a year now. Since the New Year, he has forced his way into the Gunners starting eleven ahead of Per Mertesacker. He was not included in Dunga’s most recent Brazil squad for qualifiers against Uruguay and Paraguay, but the Arsenal defender tells Sambafoot, that his international ambitions remain as strong as ever.

Can you speak any English yet? Is the language a challenge?

Despite being in the UK for more than one year, I'm still adapting to the language and I have rather a great personal and professional challenge in mastering English, even that is an official language on the planet. It is essential to learn this language. It is a natural process.

Mikel Arteta speaks Portuguese, does any other Arsenal player? Or do you communicate primarily with colleagues in Spanish?

The communication with my teammates is improving every day, and learn from them. Now I venture to communicate in English. Of course, I take those who have knowledge of Spanish and Portuguese to gain greater and closer interaction with other teammates.

You wear the jersey number 5 for Arsenal, once used by Steve Bould, a great defender for Arsenal. How much influence does Steve Bould have for you in training?

I am a professional and I value the quality and intellectual capacity of any individual. Bould has a history in the club and I want to build my own identity with the club too. And in the process he has a very important role, he knows very much about Arsenal and the position. I only have to gain from this.

Many Arsenal fans compare his style of Martin Keown, a major player in the history of Arsenal. Have you seen him play? Have you seen any videos of him?

If I say that I have seen Martin Keown play, I am compromising my credibility, but I am aware of his achievements with Arsenal and I'm watching through videos, his games for the Gunners. Indeed, Arsenal is a hotbed of great personalities of world football and they certainly deserve all the respect in the world.

What do you miss most about Brazil?

My family. I love my country, but there are situations that I prefer not to comment on or promote, that make us very sad. I hope someday to return to work in Brazilian football, but not at this time. I am focused on doing my job at Arsenal and to fight for a place in the Brazilian national team.

Who were your football idols when you were a child?

There are two players who influenced me. One is already retired and another still active. The striker Ronaldo for his achievements with the Brazilian team and his history of overcoming adversity and the defender Thiago Silva, for his technical ability and intelligence on the field.

 Is the Premier League better than the Spanish League?

It would be frivolous to say that this or that league is better than the other, each one has its own characteristic. The Spanish League is more of the Latin style of play and is very technical. In the Premier League, teams are geared for strength and physical condition, and therefore it is the most combative. However, this also does not mean that the teams do not have good technical quality. Saying that, playing in the Premier League has always been my dream and I'm doing it.

Can Arsenal win the league this year?

We have a great chance to be champions this season, however, we went through a period of bad form and it left us behind Leicester, who are having a great season. But we do not throw in the towel and we can make a difference in duels we have to fight for the Premier League title.

What are your goals with the national team?

So I can be among the Seleção, I must develop and do a good job at Arsenal. First of all I want to help my country qualify for the World Cup, and then of course, play in the World Cup at Russia 2018. I want to build a story with Brazil.

Who is the best striker in the Premier League, who caused more you the most trouble?

If I cite only one attacker, I will commit a major gaffe! They have a very particular way of playing and have a lot of physical strength, regardless of the team they are playing for. This situation is good for us defenders. This will force us to create mechanisms and alternative strengths to fulfill our role, to avoid strikers scoring goals.


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