Valencia centre-back Gabriel Paulista has reflected on his spell at Arsenal, as he prepares to face his former club in the Europa League semi-final on Thursday night.
Gabriel will return to the Emirates Stadium for the first time since leaving the Gunners in 2017 and as the 28-year-old continues to impress for Valencia, he insists he couldn't be happier with his decision to swap London for La Liga.
Speaking to The Independent, the Brazilian defender admitted: “I arrived here almost two years ago now. I can’t remember having an unhappy moment since… not one.
“With all respect to Arsenal, I have nothing to prove to them anymore. 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."
Making 40 league appearances over two seasons, Gabriel's spell in the Premier League was largely forgettable, with a sending off for a bust-up with former Chelsea striker Diego Costa the standout moment for many. However, the centre back believes in his own ability and is showing that at his current club.
He continued: “I was sad because I knew I had the ability to play… but other people didn’t think so. I’ve proven myself here and now I just want to keep showing what I can do for Valencia.
“Obviously, I’ve played a lot better here [than at Arsenal]. I could not be happier. The boss, the fans, the people at the club are happy with me.
“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]."
Gabriel was signed for Arsenal by Arsene Wenger before the 2015/16 season. The legendary manager would remain in charge for a further two seasons, but Gabriel has spoken about the tangible feeling around the club during Wenger's final years.
“I arrived during Arsene Wenger’s last years and you could feel something different in the locker room straight away.
“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.”
Gabriel will line up against his former side on Thursday night at the Emirates Stadium for the first leg of their Europa League semi-final tie.