Arsenal

Nuno Tavares: Things to know about new Arsenal star

Harry Symeou
Tavares is tipped for a bright future
Tavares is tipped for a bright future / Quality Sport Images/Getty Images
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There could be a big summer of spending ahead for Arsenal, with Mikel Arteta potentially being backed to the tune of £250m in order to reinvigorate his squad.

The Gunners have fallen well below the standards expected of them in recent years, and head it into the 2021/22 season with no European football to look forward to - the result of a desperately poor Premier League campaign last time out.

Many areas of the team requires strengthening, but one area in particular that Arsenal are short of quality is at left-back. Kieran Tierney is committed to the club until 2026 after signing a new five-year deal, but there aren't many other natural options available to Arteta should anything happen to the Scot.

Cedric Soares, Granit Xhaka and Bukayo Saka all filled in on occasion during 2020/21, but Benfica's Nuno Tavares could be the long-term answer after Arsenal secured him in an £8m deal.

Don't know much about the 21-year-old? That's entirely possible given he's not yet a household name, but there are some intriguing nuggets of information to know about Tavares. Here's 90min's best bits for you to read up on.


Who is Nuno Tavares?

1. Youth career

Navajo Bakboord, Nuno Albertino Varela Tavares
Tavares in action for Benfica's Under-19s against Ajax / Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Tavares made his professional debut in 2018 for Benfica's B side, but he's actually not a direct graduate of their academy.

Instead, he spent three years learning his trade at rivals Sporting CP - sandwiched between spells at Casa Pia, a second division club also based in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon.

Benfica made their move in 2015, and it was a further three years before Tavares made the step up to senior football.

2. A versatile defender

Nuno Tavares
Unusually tall for a full-back, Tavares offers great versatility / Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images

Tavares is naturally a left-back, but like most modern day footballers he's capable of playing anywhere across the backline.

That said, he favours his left foot quite heavily - so whenever he's played on the right flank for Benfica, he's tended to cut inside when looking to get forward.

Standing 6' tall, he can also play centrally if push comes to shove, and is exceptionally handy in the air for diagonal cross-field balls.

3. Represented Portugal at multiple youth levels

EURO U21 2021 qualifier"The Netherlands U21 v Portugal U21"
EURO U21 2021 qualifier"The Netherlands U21 v Portugal U21" / ANP Sport/Getty Images

Tavares is expected to star on the senior international stage, and has plenty of pedigree behind him at youth level.

He made 22 appearances for Portugal at Under-18 and Under-19 level before stepping up to the Under-21s in 2019. He faces competition for places in the senior side, however, with Raphael Guerreiro and Nuno Mendes among the players competing for a starting spot.

If all else fails, he has Cape Verde nationality to fall back on...

4. Attacking by nature

Nuno Tavares
Tavares likes to get forward / Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images

One particular trait of Tavares' that will appeal to Mikel Arteta is his appetite to get forward.

Playing for a successful side like Benfica helps in that regard, but Tavares is always looking to progress the ball forward and sync up play with those further in front of him.

He's not afraid to run with the ball, either, and has a decent turn of pace. Six assists in 24 appearances for the Eagles would suggest he has end product too.

5. Arsenal faced competition for Tavares' signature

Nuno Tavares, Luis Diaz
Nuno Tavares' performances have caught the eye of a number of Serie A clubs / Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Arsenal weren't the only club interested in signing Tavares, with Serie A duo Napoli and Lazio are also known admirers.

There was confidence that the young Portugal star would prefer to move to London, though, and that notion came to fruition when the Gunners tabled an offer towards the end of June.

Soon he was pictured on a flight to the capital and the rest is history.

6. Previous links & Tavares' price tag

Back in March 2021, Portuguese outlet O Jogo claimed that Benfica would only entertain bids of around €30m (£25.5m) for Tavares.

Newcastle and Burnley were the alleged interested Premier League parties back then, but talk of a move to either went quiet. Then, in June, fresh reports emerged suggesting Benfica would accept around £15m.

Even that figure proved to be a little lofty, with Arsenal allegedly securing his transfer for just £8m up front, with £2m in add-ons to follow further down the line.

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