Gabriel Paulista: I deserved more chances at Arsenal
Gabriel Paulista believes he was not given enough chances to impress at Arsenal but is far happier with life at Valencia.
The centre-back joined from Villarreal in 2015 but failed to impress consistently under Arsene Wenger, making 37 starts in the Premier League in two and a half seasons at Emirates Stadium.
Gabriel returned to LaLiga with Valencia in August 2017 to reunite with former Villarreal boss Marcelino, and he has become a key component of the defence at Mestalla.
The 28-year-old thinks he is only now getting the regular football he deserves after getting away from the "s***" he believes he was subjected to in England.
"With all respect to Arsenal, I have nothing to prove to them anymore," he told the Independent ahead of the first leg of the Europa League semi-final between Valencia and the Gunners.
"In the Premier League, I tried to prove my worth but I didn't get the chances. When I played, it was often because of an injury to my team-mates. I deserved more opportunities.
"I was sad because I knew I had the ability to play but other people didn't think so.
"I'm not the type of player who is affected too much by being talked about. I didn't listen to people who talked s*** about me in England, but I don't think anybody expected me to do the job I'm doing [at Valencia].
"There's much more pressure here and I want to improve so much more. I want to be the best every day. That is what I work for."
Gabriel thinks his spell at Arsenal was blighted by the uncertainty around the future of long-term manager Wenger, who stepped down at the end of the 2017-18 season.
"I arrived during Arsene Wenger's last years and you could feel something different in the locker room straight away," he said.
"He helped me a lot to be another kind of person on and off the pitch. He was respected by all the players and staff, but the atmosphere was so noticeable. On a daily basis, you could tell these were his last moments at the club. It showed. We knew he could go at any time."