Friday, March 1, 2024

Fabio Vieira – out of the blue excitement

During the summer, people’s interest in the transfer window varies.

Some people go all in, they want every rumour, every juicy piece of gossip regardless of the reliability of the source, and it fuels them throughout the off-season. Others prefer to pay no attention to any of it, waiting until they see the pictures on the official website of the player when the deal is 100% done and dusted, signed, sealed and delivered.

Most of us, I think, can live quite happily somewhere in the middle. We pretty much know when something is nonsense, so we can filter that stuff out; and we know when something looks credible and that can fuel debate and discussion. Far be it for me to speak on behalf of anyone else, but I would dip my toe into that water and suggest that pretty much every fan loves the actual transfer itself though.

Some might love the sagas, some might hate all the rumour and scuttlebutt and clickbait, but once the deal is done it’s exciting. And there’s one kind of transfer that’s got some extra sauce: the out of the blue deal. A player nobody had really heard of, let alone one who has never been mentioned on the back pages (real and virtual), and that’s exactly what we got yesterday.

In the afternoon, a journalist called Pedro Sepulveda posted a Tweet which said that Fabio Vieira would become an Arsenal player, joining from FC Porto for around €40m.

That was followed by Fabrizio Romano backing up that information, and while we were all looking at YouTube compilations to see what all the fuss was about, we got as close as you can get to official confirmation when Big D dropped a Tweet of his own:

I’m not going to sit here this morning and pretend I knew anything about him yesterday, because I didn’t. Watching the Portuguese league is not really high on my agenda these days, but it’s so easy these days to ‘scout’ a player after the fact. I realise YouTube compilations aren’t the be-all and end-all of player assessment, but they can at least give you a good idea of what they’re particularly good at (for some reason these videos don’t include the bits that went wrong, odd I know!).

So I watched this:

As an aside, another reason you know this deal was completely under the radar is because there was not a single ‘Fabio Vieira – welcome to Arsenal video’ to be found when I searched him yesterday. Now there are dozens as the compilation makers got busy making/copying/repurposing etc.

I also checked out his stats on transfermarkt for last season, decent numbers for a player who just turned 22 at the end of May:

They also give you a handy guide as to where a player is chosen by the manager for those games, and his reads like this:

I saw a lot of people wonder if this arrival would mean Youri Tielemans isn’t coming, but although he can play in central midfield, I don’t think that’s what we’re buying him for. Obviously at this point it’s a bit speculative, but based on the way he plays and the kind of player he is, he looks like someone who can provide cover/competition for both Bukayo Saka on the right, as well as Martin Odegaard. He’s a left footer who likes it on the right hand side, has lovely quick feet, looks very good technically, and the age profile fits perfectly too – this is someone who can get better pretty quickly.

It’s been quite interesting that as we’ve discussed the need for cover for Saka, for obvious reasons, we haven’t necessarily applied that to Odegaard too. With Premier League, Europa League and cups next season, we don’t really have that in the squad right now, even if you could say Emile Smith Rowe might provide that to some extent. For me, I think he’s more of a wide forward than a central attacking 8 at this point of his development, so the signing of someone like Fabio Vieira makes a lot of sense. Especially when you consider the five subs rule coming in next season too.

And here’s the thing I really like about it. While it might take him a bit of time to settle in and get used to English football, we’re buying a player who has the quality and potential to be a starter, and we need more of those. I’ve written many times about the drop off between our first choice players and their nominal deputies over the last couple of months, and we have to address that. A signing like this does exactly that.

It’s also interesting to consider that this is the first transfer window where the primary focus will be on bolstering the attacking/creative part of the team. Yes, we signed Odegaard last summer, and the less said about the Willian thing the better, but in all his time here Arteta has never signed forwards.

Look at this this Arteta quote from July 2020, talking about the need for creativity:

“Look at the players that we had in the past at this club in those positions. You go back to  Cazorla, to Rosicky, to Arshavin when he played there, to Ramsey when he played there, to  Mkhitaryan when he came in. Even Jack Wilshere used to play in those pockets all the time.

“That is a lot of players who are now not here. We have to renew that cycle. They are a big part of what any squad needs.”

When you think about some of the technicians we had, Cesc Fabregas chief among them, but even someone like Alex Hleb who frustrated me because he was technically impressive but without enough end product, that’s something that’s been sorely missing. It explains why we’re after Tielemans, it makes this deal even more exciting, and adding those two players to Saka, Smith Rowe, Martinelli, Odegaard and then adding to the forward line augurs well for the way we are going to try and play next season.

There are reports that things are advancing with the Belgian, as well as Gabriel Jesus, but let’s wait and see what happens. However, if you added those three to the squad in the next little while, it would certainly be an excellent start to our summer business. First team quality signings. There’s more to do obviously, both in and out, but it promises to have a significant impact on this team and the kind of football we might be able to produce.

The Vieira stuff happened late yesterday so there’s not a lot about it in the Arsecast today – however, as we always do, we’ll have a new signing podcast over on Patreon for you as and when it becomes official.

For now, I’ll leave with today’s pod, happy listening.


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