Liverpool legend runs rule on Arsenal signing Gabriel Paulista

Jamie Carragher says time will tell if Gabriel Paulista is a good signing

Jamie Carragher believes Arsenal signing Gabriel Paulista will act as an understudy for Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker.

Gabriel signed a long-term deal with the north London side after the versatile defender completed a £11.3m switch to Emirates Stadium from La Liga outfit Villarreal on Wednesday evening.

If Arsenal want to push on in the Champions League and win the title in the next couple of years, they need outstanding centre-backs, not just good ones

Jamie Carragher

The uncapped Argentine centre-half wasted no time in warning Koscielny and Mertesacker that he was determined to earn a first-team place following his Premier League switch.

However, Liverpool legend Carragher says the current centre-half pairing form a formidable double act, praising Arsene Wenger for addressing the lack of defensive cover in his squad.

“There’s no doubt Arsenal have been lacking a centre-back since Thomas Vermaelen left for Barcelona,” Carragher told Sky Sports.

“They’ve had to play Mathieu Debuchy, Calum Chambers – whom I think will end up playing in that position – and even Nacho Monreal there – full-backs playing as centre-backs.

“Has Gabriel come in to replace Per Mertesacker or Laurent Koscielny right away or will he take a back seat for the next few months, act as cover and then really put pressure on those two next season?

“Villarreal have a good defensive record in La Liga but I think he will be an understudy to start with – unless someone gets injured and he plays fantastically well.

“I actually think Koscielny and Mertesacker are quite good together but if Arsenal want to push on in the Champions League and win the title in the next couple of years, they need outstanding centre-backs, not just good ones. Time will tell whether Gabriel is that man.”

The uncapped Brazilian won two Campeonato Baiano titles before the defender sealed a switch to La Liga side Villarreal in 2013.

The Sao Paulo-born star made 50 appearances for the Yellow Submarine in all competitions after signing a five-year deal upon his La Liga move.

Arsenal face Aston Villa in the Premier League at Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

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