Sunday, June 26, 2022

Meet Fabio Vieira, the £34m playmaker who will join Arsenal after a breakthrough year at Porto

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The 22-year-old is set to become Mikel Arteta’s first big signing of the summer and provide competition in attacking midfield positions

The 22-year-old, who is expected to cost €40m (£34.2m) and sign a five-year deal, is not quite the full successor to namesake Patrick but is a nimble and versatile playmaker who will add quality and depth to Arteta’s squad at the top of the field.

Arsenal fans have long dreamed of having a ‘Vieira’ patrolling their midfield again and at last their wish is granted as Porto’s Fabio Vieira becomes Mikel Arteta’s first big signing of the summer.

Vieira has spent his entire career – and most of his life – playing in Porto’s iconic blue and white striped shirts, breaking through in Hungary 12 months after his appearance for Portugal at last summer’s European Under-21 Championship , where they placed second.

Vieira was named Player of the Tournament and carried that form into the following season, scoring six goals and providing 14 assists in 27 games as Sergio Conceicao’s side stormed to the Primeira Liga title. Vieira, a regular starter but more consistently involved following the sale of Luis Diaz to Liverpool in January, averaged a goal or assist every 66 minutes.

Corresponding who scored Vieira played mainly as a number 10 but has also been used as a centre-forward and on both flanks and despite being left-footed by nature he has developed a knack for helping and scoring goals with his weaker right foot.

An assist against Liverpool during the Champions League group stage last season is a good example of Vieira’s ability. After receiving the ball on the edge of the box, Vieira dribbled cleanly into space with his left foot before firing a cross into the box which Medhi Taremi met with his right. Only Liverpool’s £85m recruit Darwin Nunez surpassed Taremi in the Primeira Liga last season and five of his 20 goals were assisted by Vieira. a statistic that bodes well for Arsenal’s new No9.

Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus continues to be heavily linked with a move to the Emirates, while Eddie Nketiah is expected to sign a new deal following Alexandre Lacazette’s return to Lyon.

As a left-footed No. 10, Vieira will start alongside Martin Odegaard, although he is more akin to former Manchester City star David Silva in terms of physique and style. Vieira’s highlight film from his time at Porto is packed with elegant sliding runs and precise diagonal passes into the penalty area.

That Arsenal have prioritized the signing of a talented young attacking midfielder early in the transfer window comes as a surprise perhaps given they are already flush with them. It’s the strongest area of ​​their squad, with Bukayo Saka, Odegaard, Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith Rowe battling for three positions, and Nicolas Pepe offering fairly expensive support until he’s moved on.

Arsenal’s problem was not so much creating chances as creating them. Odegaard and Saka finished second and seventh in the Premier League last season, but Arsenal managed the sixth-best goals tally. The move bears the hallmarks of the Arsene Wenger era, when the squad was teeming with sparkling-toed technicians.

Still, Vieira’s adaptability and ability to use both feet should serve Arteta well as the lack of squad depth was a key factor in derailing Arsenal’s campaign during the run-in. Although a playmaker is low on Arsenal’s list of priorities – behind a striker, a central midfielder and a backup full-back on either side – it’s an exciting acquisition given Vieira’s development over the past season.

Arsenal fans will be hoping his forthcoming arrival will be the first of many as the club prepare for another top-four push in 2022-23.

By Daniel Storey I‘s chief football writer

Arsenal spent more than £150m on new players last summer but the squad still felt worryingly thin towards the end of last season and this problem is only set to increase with the arrival of European football in 2022-23 . Mikel Arteta would like a group of 22 outfield players and three goalkeepers and they are a long way from that at the moment.

A new striker is obviously a priority after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang joined Barcelona on a free transfer and Alexandre Lacazette left the Emirates after his contract expired. Neither were regulars at the end of their Arsenal days, but a combination of Gabriel Martinelli and Eddie Nketiah – who is likely to renew his own contract – just isn’t enough to boost ambitions at home and in Europe. They have signed Brazilian Marquinhos for £3m but at this price and age he is clearly one for the future.

But there are gaps in this squad. Arsenal are likely to need another central midfielder to avoid Martin Odegaard having to play deeper if one of Thomas Partey or Granit Xhaka is unavailable, particularly after Matteo Guendouzi’s outright sale to Marseille (confirmed in March).

If Takehiro Tamiyasu is just a backup option, they need a first-choice right-back. A left-back may also be needed due to Kieran Tierney’s injury woes. And if William Saliba is to be sold, Arteta will also need a centre-back. It’s a lot of work for a shortened summer.

Read Daniel’s full analysis here

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