Fabio Vieira’s signing is a shrewd one, but it is also telling by Sean M
The news broke today that Fabio Vieira is on the verge of completing a £30m move from Porto.
Fabio is a 22-year-old attacking midfielder who racked up 14 assists and 6 goals in 27 appearances (15 starts) last season.
Mikel Arteta has long said that his ideal squad would contain 22 outfield players, with at least two players of equal quality in each position in order to push every player to reach their potential. With this in mind, Fabio’s signing was inevitable.
Mikel’s preferred formation seems to be a 4-3-3, with the midfield consisting of one attacking, left-footed, creator, a more rounded box-to-box no.8 and a holding, single-pivot defensive shield. All three positions are filled currently by Odegaard, Xhaka and Partey respectively. Although ESR is an attacking midfielder, and has been tried as the no.8 on occasions, he is not thought to be in direct competition with MO.
Fabio is a slight, skilful, creative midfielder with excellent technique and an eye for the killer ball, as his impressive record boasts. With no current competition in the first team, Fabio would appear to slot in perfectly as MO’s understudy.
The news should also not deter fans from the likelihood of Tielemans or another no.8 entering the fray at some point during the window. Assuming we will retain Xhaka, MA presumably would be happy with one acquisition in this area.
Disappointingly, Partey spent half of his first and second season on the treatment table. With the impressive resurgence of Mohammed Elneny at the backend of the last campaign, one would assume cover for Partey would not be a priority this season. Further, it has been rumoured that Lokonga is seen as Partey’s natural replacement. Whether he possesses the abilities to live up to this expectation remains to be seen.
Predictions for the rest of the window
If we assume that MA’s intentions are to gather this 25-man squad, we can make some inferences about what to expect between now and the end of August.
We all know that efforts are being made to bring in a no.9 after the departure of Lacazette. It seems that Gabriel Jesus is (rightfully) dragging his heels a little as he takes his time to consider his options ahead of what seems to be an inevitable exit from Man City this summer. Further rumours that Nketiah has extended his contract suggests that he and either Jesus or another forward will be competing for that spot.
While Martinelli and ESR are battling it out for LW, Saka has no adequate competition at RW. I have my doubts that we would be willing to fork out £55m for Raphinha, but I would also guess that the coaching staff are waiting to see if the incoming Marquinhos can pull a Martinelli and jump straight into contention in the RW role.
Elsewhere, Saliba, White, Gabriel and Holding will fight for the 2 CB slots, Cedric and Tomiyasu for the RB slot, which leaves the ever-injured Tierney needing cover. MA’s selection decisions last season suggest that Nuno Tavares is not yet at the required level, and may be sent out on loan, which would suggest that we can expect a new face in at LB with Aaron Hickey mooted as a possible addition.
With all this being said, we can expect to see five new faces this summer, in order of priority: a no.9, a RW, a no.8, a no.10 and a LB. So don’t worry Gooners: I predict that Fabio Vieira’s signing is not instead of Tielemans, but in addition.
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