Saturday, December 3, 2022

Fabio Vieira signs + how he might help us change

There’s only one place to start this morning and that’s the official arrival of Fabio Vieira from Porto, our first major signing of the summer (sorry Marquinhos!).

The 22 year old will cost €35m + €5m in add-ons, he’ll wear the number 21 shirt and he’s signed a five year deal. Let’s start with what people had to say first.

Mikel Arteta

I am very excited that we have identified and signed such a special talent. Fabio is a very creative player that will bring high quality and versatility to our attacking play. We welcome Fabio and his family to our club and are looking forward to starting work with him ahead of the new season.

Edu

We’re so pleased to have completed the signing of Fabio from FC Porto. Fabio is a player with special qualities who is comfortable with the ball in the final third of the pitch. We are all looking forward to working with him and enjoying his future contribution to Arsenal. We will now continue to work hard and are looking forward to finishing this transfer window as strongly possible.

Fabio Vieira

I’m thrilled, of course This is an important step forward in my career. Arsenal is a huge and historic club, so I’m delighted to be here at my new home. Everyone knows that Arsenal are a fantastic team. That was one of the main factors behind me choosing Arsenal. I really like the way the team plays and I can’t wait to get started.

So, who is he exactly and what kind of a player have we got. First, I’ll point you in the direction of Phil Costa’s profile piece, and over on Patreon myself and Phil have a podcast in which we discuss the signing, the player profile and lots more – listen here.

In short, we have a very technically sound player coming to add real quality and depth to our squad. It remains to be seen exactly where he’s going to play, but Vieira himself likens his style to that of Martin Odegaard so with his desire and ability to make contributions in the final third, he’s going to play in those areas. Whether it’s as depth for the Norwegian, or with him, the season will tell the story.

And look, if you read regularly you’ll know Odegaard is a real favourite of mine, but I think we have to move away from the either/or mindset when it comes to the season ahead. We need a squad with more quality players in it. We all know one of the big issues was the inability to change games when we went behind, which is a significant problem of course. It’s also a much more difficult problem to solve when you look at your bench, see three defenders, a rookie/journeyman central midfielder, and a bunch of kids as your attacking options, and that was what we had at some points in our last campaign.

Everyone understands that this season’s schedule is going to be more taxing. I saw a Tweet the other day (can’t find it now) which laid out in stark terms how much is going to be expected of teams who have Premier League, Europe, the FA Cup, and EFL Cup, not to mention the World Cup slap bang in the middle of the season too. You cannot go through a season with 12/13 first choice players like we did last time. The very obvious consequence of that is you run out of gas, you pick up some injuries, and you’re banjaxed.

A player like Fabio Vieira, who can play as an attacking midfielder, a wide forward, in central midfield, and has even played as a second striker for Porto, helps you cope. It’s also why, as I wrote yesterday, I would welcome a signing like Raphinha who can also operate in various positions across the forward line and give us the ability to rotate, but also to react in game situations that require us to change the dynamic as well as the scoreline.

By his own admission, Vieira needs to work a bit on the physical side of his game. He’s still young and quite slight, but some time in the gym will be necessary to cope as well as possible with the rigours of English football. Size isn’t the be-all and end-all though. We’ve seen players like Santi Cazorla, David Silva and more recently Bernardo Silva (a player to whom Vieira is likened in terms of his playing style) thrive without the physical presence you’d normally associate with the Premier League. A bit more muscle won’t hurt though.

I do like the fact we’ve added more technical quality to the squad though and it’s the kind of signing that makes me think we’re trying to change the way we deal with in-game situations next season. Back in March, Arteta said of this summer:

I think now is the moment we have to go to a different level.

Imagine being 1-0 up in a tight game and – with all due respect to him – instead of bringing on Rob Holding to sit back and defend – you bring on Fabio Vieira and a player like Raphinha. Your plan isn’t to camp in your own half, it’s to play the game in the opposition’s. If you have the ball in their territory, it’s much more difficult for them to score. New players, plus the quality and versatility of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe, will allow Mikel Arteta to alter the way we play the game and, in my opinion at least, move closer to the kind of football he ultimately wants.

After the Watford game last season, in which he was seen berating his players after we scored a goal, he explained his frustration:

I didn’t like how we were controlling the game. We had to make 300,000 passes in the opposition half and when they have the right moment to come at us, then we can attack them.

It seems pretty clear that a signing like Vieira is an important ingredient in that sense, and while there will still probably be those games where we have to dig in, if we’re moving towards a more technically assured team that dominates possession and negates the threat of the opposition by having more of the ball, I’m all for it.

So, welcome to Fabio Vieira, let’s see what’s next in terms of incoming deals, but this one seems pretty exciting to me.

Till tomorrow.