Arsenal strengthens defensive options by signing Gabriel
LONDON (AP) — Arsenal strengthened its depleted defensive options by signing Brazilian defender Gabriel from Villarreal on Wednesday, with Costa Rica forward Joel Campbell joining the Spanish club on loan as part of the deal.
Financial terms weren’t disclosed but British media has reported that Arsenal is paying about 15 million pounds ($22.75 million) for Gabriel, who has been granted a work permit, and is awaiting international clearance.
The 24-year-old Gabriel can also play as a fullback on either side, with his versatility a benefit to an Arsenal side that has been beset with injuries to defenders after starting the season light on numbers at the back.
Gabriel will provide much-needed competition and cover for center backs Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker, and said he decided he wanted to move to the Premier League after playing two pre-season games in England last summer.
“Something came over me, I can’t explain it ... good things, I just wanted to play here in England,” said Gabriel, who was an ever-present for Villarreal this season. “I didn’t think of any teams or anything, I just knew I wanted to play in the Premier League.”
Campbell agreed to a new long-term deal with Arsenal prior to a loan move to Villarreal for the rest of the season. He spent last season on loan at Greek club Olympiakos.
Arsenal has also signed 17-year-old Polish midfielder Krystian Bielik in the January transfer window.