Gabriel Paulista free to represent Spain after earning dual nationality

Brazilian Paulista could become the latest to represent his adopted country after former Villarreal midfielder Marcos Senna and Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa.

After spending two years at Arsenal, he returned to Spain in 2017 to sign for Valencia and has become the club's most important defender, making more than 100 league appearances for them.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Valencia's Brazilian defender Gabriel Paulista has reiterated his desire to represent Spain at next year's European Championship after being granted dual nationality on Wednesday.

Paulista was born and raised in Sao Paulo and did not move away from Brazil until he joined Spanish side Villarreal aged 22 in 2013.

After spending two years at Arsenal, he returned to Spain in 2017 to sign for Valencia and has become the club's most important defender, making more than 100 league appearances for it.

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The centre back was called up to the Brazil team on six occasions but never made an appearance for it, and last year he revealed his wish to play for his adopted country.

"I waited a long time for this moment and I'm very happy," he told Valencia's official website after obtaining a Spanish passport.

"I have wanted to have Spanish nationality for a long time so I can keep growing with Valencia, and I also want to be part of the Spain team and I hope I can play at the European Championship."

Spain coach Luis Enrique said last week he was aware of Paulista's intention to play for his side.

"It's good news for me as a coach, because the more top-level players we have who can wear the national side's shirt, the better," he said.

Should he earn a Spain call-up, Paulista will become the latest Brazilian to represent his adopted country after former Villarreal midfielder Marcos Senna and Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa.

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Senna earned Spanish citizenship in 2006, representing Spain in the World Cup that year and becoming a crucial player in its triumph at the 2008 European Championship when it won its first major trophy in 44 years.

Costa, who represented Brazil in two international friendlies, switched to the Spain side in time for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

He scored 10 goals in 26 appearances for Spain but has not returned to the side since the 2018 World Cup.