Fabio Vieira became our second signing of the summer this week, when he completed a move from Portuguese giants Porto.
The attack-minded midfielder had attracted the attention of clubs all over the continent after a stellar season at his boyhood club, but it was the Gunners who won the race for the 22-year-old’s signature.
To get the lowdown on our new arrival, we spoke to renowned Portuguese football journalist Tom Kundert, of Portugoal.net, to find out what we can expect from Fabio.
“I think it’s a really exciting signing for Arsenal,” Tom begins. “Without a doubt he’s one of Portugal’s most promising, up and coming talents. He’s very stylish, an extremely smooth operator. In terms of players currently in the Premier League, I’d say he’s similar in style to Bruno Fernandes. Even his physique is similar in a way.
“He’s a really, really potent attacking weapon. For me the thing that makes him stand out as a star is his vision. He is a fantastic passer. He’s one of those players who can spot a pass and you think ‘My god. I didn’t even see that from up in the stands. How did he manage to pick that out?!’ He’s really incisive in the final third, and he’s got goals in him as well.
“He's coming off a really good season, his best so far and his first where he has been a regular in the Porto side, who won the league. He contributed significantly to that. If I was an Arsenal fan, I’d be delighted, and here in Portugal, as fans of Portuguese football, we’re excited to see how he does at this stage of his career.”
Voted Primeira Liga Player of the Month for April as Porto stormed to their second title in three years (losing just one league game all season) he finished the campaign with 14 assists and six goals from just 27 appearances. It worked out as an assist every 95 minutes – better than any other player in Europe’s top seven divisions last season.
So where does Tom think Fabio will fit into the Arsenal team?
“He’s left-footed but he tends to play to on the right – last season at least – he cuts in and shoots or picks out one of his fantastic passes with his left foot. He’s a bit of an all-rounder, but definitely more of an attacking midfielder than a defensive one. He can play number 10 as well.”
Although yet to be capped at senior level for Portugal, he’s played more than 20 times for the Under-21s, scoring on 13 occasions. Last June he was named Player of the Tournament as he helped Portugal reach the final of the European Under-21 Championships. He scored once in six appearances, and helped his country see off an England side featuring both Emile Smith Rowe and Eddie Nketiah in the group stage.
“He’s pretty much the boss of that Portugal Under-21 team,” Tom confirms, “and has been for the last year or so. It’s quite a thing watching him, pointing, telling his team-mates where to go and organising the offensive setup. He does it very effectively as well.
“Portugal Under-21s have got a very talented squad, and their results over the past couple of years have been incredible, winning nearly every game and racking up five or six goals every match. He’s been at the heart of that.
“He’s a little unfortunate not to have played for the senior team yet, because in his position Portugal are spoilt for choice. They’ve got some of the best players in the world there, like Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo Silva. Renato Sanches sometimes occupies that role as well, so that’s the reason he hasn’t broken in yet.
“I fully expect him to do so quite soon, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets himself on the plane to Qatar if he hits the ground running at Arsenal. I’m sure that will be a target of his.”
Born just outside the city of Porto, he joined the club as an eight-year-old, and has played all his football there, making his first team debut in 2020. So how does Tom think Fabio will cope with a move to London at this stage of his career?
“I think he will be fine. He has been at Porto since he was a kid, but that happens quite often in Portugal – the top talents get snapped up at a young age by one of the big clubs. Dozens and dozens are snapped up every year, and only a very few make it. But people have been keeping an eye on Vieira for a long time. Porto won the UEFA Youth Champions League in 2019, and he was a key part of that side. In fact, people expected him to break into the first team earlier than he did, but he’s always been a top prospect.
“You see it generally in England, that Portuguese people on the whole don’t have much trouble settling in and adapting to a new country. He speaks reasonable English already, so I can’t see any problem there. As I said, for me it looks like a really exciting move – for him and for Arsenal – and we’ll all be watching to see how he gets on in London.”
You can follow Tom on Twitter.
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