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Gabriel Paulista under consideration for Spain call-up as Enrique monitors Brazil-born defender

19:57 SAST 2020/01/09
Gabriel Paulista Valencia 2019-20
The Valencia centre-back, formerly of Arsenal and Villarreal, could follow in Diego Costa's footsteps in switching from Brazil to Spain

Spain boss Luis Enrique will consider Valencia defender Gabriel Paulista for selection if he becomes available to the national team.

Brazilian-born centre-back Gabriel is in the process of gaining Spanish nationality and last year expressed an interest in representing Spain once he is eligible.

Speaking to Movistar+ , Luis Enrique confirmed it was a situation he was monitoring.

"I am aware of every player who could be called up," he said.

"Paulista is going through a process that could make him eligible."

Should Gabriel make the cut for Euro 2020, it would evoke memories of Diego Costa making a switch to play for Spain as opposed to his native Brazil ahead of the 2014 World Cup.

Costa struggled as the defending champions were dumped out in the group stage and, although he eventually improved to 10 goals from 26 caps, the Atletico Madrid striker has not featured at international level since the penalty shoot-out defeat to hosts Russia at the 2018 World Cup.

Spain will face Sweden, Poland and a play-off qualifier in Group E at Euro 2020. 

Gabriel was born in Sao Paulo, leaving Brazil in 2013 to join Villarreal. Within a year and a half, he had impressed sufficiently to earn his move to Arsenal, then under the management of Arsene Wenger.

He won two FA Cups and a Community Shield with the Gunners before leaving at the end of the 2016-17 season.

The defender signed a five-year deal at Valencia despite his previous association with rivals Villarreal, and has been a solid figure in La Liga since his return to Spain.

Gabriel will face stern competition for a place in Enrique's team if he is called up.

Spain's most recent squad - picked by former manager Robert Moreno, now at Monaco - included Sergio Ramos, Inigo Martinez, Raul Albiol and Pau Torres as central defensive options.

Enrique's last selection of his first spell in charge, which ended when he stepped down for personal reasons in June 2019, also included Mario Hermoso - then of Espanyol, now at Atletico Madrid - and Real Sociedad's Diego Llorente.

Before Euro 2020, Spain have already arranged friendly games with Germany, the Netherlands and Portugal.