Where does Fabio Vieira fit in at Arsenal?

Harry Symeou
Arsenal have a new talent on their hands
Arsenal have a new talent on their hands / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

While some Arsenal fans were watching on with envy as north London rivals Tottenham this week moved to strengthen their squad in the transfer market, the Gunners' hierarchy were quietly brokering a deal for Porto star Fabio Vieira.

The Portuguese is set to be confirmed as an Arsenal player, with an official announcement expected soon.

The news of the acceleration of this deal though came like a bolt out of the blue on Thursday afternoon. A creative midfielder wasn’t at the top of most Arsenal fans’ priority list going into the window, but an addition as talented as the 22-year-old should always be a welcome one.

However, the big question is around what Vieira’s role will look like moving forward. If he isn’t coming in to be a starter, was it wise to splash out in excess of €35m on his acquisition with a number of other areas desperately in need of addressing?

Strength in depth is something Mikel Arteta’s side were lacking at various points last season. And to have an additional creative influence, one responsible for 14 assists in the Portuguese top flight last season, relieving Martin Odegaard of some of the burden can only be a positive. The Norwegian enjoyed a strong first full season in Arsenal colours and has shown himself to be one of the side’s natural leaders - sparking debate around whether he’ll be named the club’s next captain.

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Accounting for Odegaard’s status, his starting place is unlikely to be under threat. So how does the boss shoehorn both players into the team without negatively impacting the midfield structure from a defensive standpoint?

The most likely scenario would see Vieira deployed centrally when Odegaard is in need of a rest and with Europa League football to come, rotation will be key. But the rest of the time, he could provide some much needed cover on the flanks, with an emphasis on drifting in field.

The introduction of five substitutions in the top flight from next season means squad players are likely to play a far more significant role moving forward. Adding another creative player to the ranks could benefit the likes of Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka, who were heavily relied upon last season.

Particularly in Saka’s case, a lack of trust in the alternative options meant Arteta was reluctant to leave the England star out even when he was clearly running on empty. He appeared in all 38 Premier League games last season but the addition of Vieira, who has previously played from the right flank to good effect, could extinguish that reluctance and encourage further rotation.

The Portuguese Under-21 international has already demonstrated his versatility and can comfortably slot in on either flank or centrally - undoubtedly adding to his appeal.

Where positionally he will play the majority of his football for the Gunners remains to be seen but the willingness to invest in what many felt wasn’t a priority area could be a sign that Arsenal are looking to go big again this summer.