A quick Saturday round-up for you. Fabio Vieira arrived in England yesterday to finalise his move from Porto, the financial details of which were released by the Portuguese side yesterday. Medicals, photos, all that jazz. Quite when we’ll see the announcement remains to be seen, but this has to be considered a sure thing at this point.
Also, the more I think about it, the more I like it. Again, my exposure to the player himself is limited, but I like what it says about how we’re trying to build the squad. I’m reminded of something Mikel Arteta said back in March when interviewed by Sky Sports. He was asked if this coming summer was as important as the previous one, and said:
“More important. I think now is the moment we have to go to a different level. Now is the moment to raise the quality.”
And later, speaking about the potential recruitment of a striker to replace Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, he said:
“Any successful team needs enough goal threat in the squad. Without it, you have nothing. You can play good football but you need enough goal threat in the team.”
Of course some of that has to come from a more prolific ‘number 9’, but goals just don’t appear out of nowhere. You need players who can create chances, and you also need goals from other areas. Last season we saw Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka chip in with 11 and 12 goals from the wide positions (primarily), if they can do that again, if Gabriel Martinelli can improve on his 6, if Martin Odegaard and Vieira can score and create, and if your centre-forward is more effective than the ones we had for most of the season, that’s an exciting prospect to think about.
There was an interesting line in the The Athletic’s latest Arsenal transfer round-up (£), in which we’re linked with Ajax’s Argentinian defender Lisandro Martinez:
Signing him [Vieira] does not necessarily mean Arsenal will stop chasing other targets, or that Vieira’s arrival replaces others in their sights, such as Raphinha, Gabriel Jesus or Lisandro Martinez. Rather, they are keen to press on. The plan, ideally, is to recruit them all.
Not all plans come to fruition, of course, but I like that kind of thinking. I think last season showed that we have the bones of a good team, but the lack of depth in key positions absolutely cost us as we approached the finishing line. Depth doesn’t just mean a warm body either, and if the idea this summer is to ensure we bring in 4 or 5 players who are starting quality, then that’s the kind of transfer plan that should have most people excited. Can we execute it? That remains to be seen, and as the Vieira deal showed, perhaps there are some names out there we haven’t even heard of yet for positions we haven’t publicly shown interest in.
The links to Lisandro Martinez make some sense on the basis that Pablo Mari is probably going to go this summer, and the club are seeking another left-sided centre-half. He is a bit small for that role for my preference, but can also play left-back which may give us a hint at what lies ahead for Nuno Tavares with talks about a potential loan to Atalanta continue. As much as I love him, you just never know when the Kieran Tierney injury bomb might go off (although as James Benge said on the Arsecast on Friday ‘It’s usually April, isn’t it?!’), and an international player with lots of European experience with Ajax makes plenty of sense.
The reported fee of £30m+ sounds a bit expensive, but I don’t know that you get a player of the requisite quality for anything less than £20m these days, and this is the kind of ball park Premier League clubs are going to be in all summer long for these kind of signings. Everyone knows English clubs have plenty of money, that’s the reality. Let’s see what happens.
Finally for today, it’s being reported that Granit Xhaka’s booking against Leeds has been referred to the National Crime Agency by The FA after a 6 month investigation into suspicious betting patterns. The first thing to say is that there is no suggestion Xhaka himself did anything wrong, but even so I wouldn’t worry if I were him. From what I can gather, in the UK you can actually write the laws, then break the laws, lie to the entire nation and insist that you didn’t, then it’s proved that you did … repeatedly … and you still get away without any kind of censure whatsoever. Chill out, Granit.
Right, that’s your lot for this morning. Enjoy your Saturday, more from me here tomorrow.