Arsenal have announced the signing of Fábio Vieira from FC Porto for a fee of £34m on a five-year contract. Though Vieira had a release clause of £42.64m (€50m), Arsenal have managed to negotiate a lower fee of £29.9m with a further £5m in potential add-ons with super-agent Jorge Mendes brokering the deal. Vieira will wear the number 21 shirt, last worn by Calum Chambers, who left in January.
The player flew in for his medical on the 16th of June, before undergoing his tests the following day.
The deal has come as a surprise to Arsenal fans as no prior news regarding the transfer was ever leaked to members of the press. Arsenal are seldom able to complete transfers in secret, with almost all of the club’s summer plans leaking months in advance, so the news that Arsenal were close to completing the deal, sent social media into a frenzy.
Vieira’s signature is something of a surprise even aside from the fact that the news miraculously did not leak beforehand. The 22-year old attacking midfielder was being tracked by a host of clubs around Europe, including Liverpool (who reportedly had the right of first refusal on the player), Manchester United and Tottenham, even European champions Real Madrid had reportedly been keeping tabs on the player.
“I am very excited that we have identified and signed such a special talent.
Fábio is a very creative player that will bring high quality and versatility to our attacking play.
We welcome Fábio and his family to our club and are looking forward to starting work with him ahead of the new season.”Mikel Arteta, Arsenal manager
Quite apart from that, the signing is in a position that Arsenal do not seem to have much of a need to strengthen in. Martin Ødegaard is the club’s de-facto number 10, while Emile Smith Rowe has also proven capable of playing in the position multiple times as well. Arsenal’s creativity looks set for the coming season with Vieira joining up with the likes of Ødegaard, Smith Rowe, Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka. Mikel Arteta has previously stated his interest in reforming the creative spine that Arsenal had under Arsène Wenger, which included Arteta himself along with other technicians Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere, Tomáš Rosický, Mesut Özil, Alexis Sánchez, Aaron Ramsey and later Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
The deal has been criticised in Portugal. The consensus of many connected to Porto is that Arsenal have signed one of the gems of the team for well below his asking price. Former Porto presidential candidate Nuno Lobo said: “He is one of the best players at FC Porto and leaving for this fee is a bad deal, we are talking about one of the gems of FC Porto, one of the players who came from our academy. The DNA of FC Porto. We lost him. It’s another piece of business that I don’t understand. We are talking about ridiculous values for players who represent and are FC Porto. They are from our academy and we are letting them go for unbelievable fees.”
Vieira is an exceptionally exciting signing all the same.
Last season, Vieira recorded a stunning return of 7 goals and 16 assists in all competitions, which alerted all of Europe to his progress.
Vieira had generally been in and around the Porto senior side for a while, but after a stunning performance at the 2021 UEFA European U21 Championships (where he was named Player of the Tournament), he was given a starring role in the team, helping the team to a domestic double. His departure was not anticipated this summer, with teammate Vitinha expected to be the main departure at the club. Porto fans have already expressed frustration with the club’s board, who have so far sanctioned the sales of Luis Díaz and Vieira and are expected to do the same with Vitinha, all of which are well below market value.
Vieira has also been known to operate in the central midfield role, as a false-nine or on the wing, depending on the circumstances. Another key aspect to his game is his pressing stats. Vieira has impressed the Arsenal recruitment staff with his fantastic ball recovery skills in key areas, an area that Arsenal are already strong in and are looking to improve further this summer.
The positional versatility that Vieira offers has hugely impressed manager Mikel Arteta, who reportedly pushed very hard for the deal to be completed. It is likely that the player will play in the number 8 role as well as a CAM.
Vieira is the club’s second piece of official business this summer after the signing of Marquinhos from São Paulo and fourth overall, following the signings of Matt Turner and Auston Trusty who were signed in January.
Elsewhere, the club’s pursuit of Gabriel Jesus is hotting up, as is their interest in Leeds winger, Raphina.
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