Fabio Vieira: An elegant Arsenal signing or just a Martin Odegaard backup?

Fabio Vieira is the elegant signing that Mikel Arteta has craved, but what will his arrival mean for Arsenal, their transfer business, and existing stars?

Transfer plans can often be complicated for fans to decipher. There is a general expectation from fans regarding players they want at their clubs to fill in certain positions. Similarly, Arsenal supporters have been crying out for a left-sided central midfielder, seen as an upgrade to Granit Xhaka, but the club redeemed their card someplace else.

Fabio Vieira’s signing came out of the blue amid expectations to see a certain Youri Tielemans arriving at the Emirates. The Leicester City playmaker is reportedly available for a knocked-down price, and through the lens of many talking about the midfielder, he seems to fit Arsenal’s mould.

Instead, Vieira joined from FC Porto in a deal reaching €40 million. The 22-year-old has joined the Gunners on a five-year deal, and despite the nature of the announcement coming through from the club’s social media profiles and reputed journalists, it has been taken positively by fans.

Vieira seems like an interesting signing for a position many may find unnecessary for Arsenal to strengthen in. Yyet, Mikel Arteta views it differently, as the Portuguese midfielder could be considered more than just a backup for Martin Odegaard, even though their playing styles match.

Arteta wants to play high-level technical football, and the recent signings resonate with that feeling. From Aaron Ramsdale to the potential arrival of Gabriel Jesus, the Arsenal manager has made his style clear to everyone, including the players. Vieira will be a significant cog in future teams starting next season.

Who is Fabio Vieira?

A player with just one good season under his belt cost Arsenal around £35 million in this market. The Gunners are not known to spend significantly on bit-part players, which signals what Arteta wants to do with Vieira.

Portuguese experts have glowing words for the new Arsenal signing. Even though Vieira only played one regular season for Porto, his numbers showed what he is all about. 16 assists in the season across all competitions fit for an attacking midfielder.

The 22-year-old came through the ranks at FC Porto and steadily found himself growing into the stature of a player ready for the first team. Fortunately for Vieira, Luis Diaz moved to Liverpool, forcing the club’s management to use him regularly.

He primarily reprises the no. 10 role, which we all know has been a famed position at Arsenal, previously occupied by many remarkable players. Mesut Ozil and Dennis Bergkamp famously defined the role, and since then, playmakers worldwide have used them as the benchmark.

Vieira may be slightly different from those before him, as he can potentially occupy at least three positions in Mikel Arteta’s setup. He could be imperative to the Arsenal manager’s design, as the Portuguese midfielder can provide something the team does not have from an attacking midfield position.

Where does Vieira fit in at Arsenal?

A huge shoutout to Arsenal’s transfer chiefs, analysts, and scouts for finding Vieira. Not only did they get the deal over the line without anyone getting so much of a sniff, the Gunners have also found a diamond that may need a little polishing.

Arsenal have once again identified a player who primarily played in a different setup, making him the ideal mark to gel into Arteta’s style. For instance, Aaron Ramsdale played in long-ball, relegation-fighting teams in the past two seasons, and honestly, no one thought he could be the ball-playing goalkeeper he is at Arsenal.

It is about identifying the right player from a different system and nurturing their primary qualities. Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva was a different player at AS Monaco, but Pep Guardiola had the understanding of where his best strength lies.

Vieira could be considered Arteta’s own Bernardo Silva in many aspects. The 22-year-old, like his compatriot, can play across multiple positions in an attacking midfield setup. At Porto, he used to play as a no. 10 in an attacking 4-4-2. And despite many suggestions that he is not a left midfielder, he could be moulded into an attacking no. 8.

Vieira’s natural position in this Arsenal side would be the role Martin Odegaard occupies. Compared to the Portuguese midfielder’s abilities, the Norwegian playmaker could be considered a bit shorthanded, mainly due to his one-footedness. Odegaard tends to rely on his left foot, while Vieira is actively two-footed.

Odegaard’s limitations do not allow him to provide an extra impetus in the attack. For instance, the Norwegian is non-existent at overlapping from the right side, which happens to be an important trait for an attacking midfielder in his mould. Kevin De Bruyne and Silva consistently do it, which is attributed to their two-footedness.

Vieira could solve this problem by playing on the right-hand side and combining with the likes of Bukayo Saka. Initially, the Portuguese playmaker is expected to be a rotation option, but once he starts getting regular starts, Arteta could look to move Odegaard onto a left no. 8 role. Over there, the Norwegian can be a threat from overlaps, and Vieira could equally dictate the game from the other side.

Vieira could occupy the no. 10 role on either side of the pitch. Arteta’s long-term vision might dictate the moulds the Portuguese into his version of Bernardo Silva. In all, Vieira is a versatile player, capable of operating with both feet, and has the tremendous ball-striking ability, which is missing in Odegaard.

Does Vieira impact transfer strategy or existing players?

The signing of the 22-year-old emerged out of the blue. While fans were stunned by the swiftness of the signing, there were concerns from sections concerning the midfield signing. Before the Portugal Under-21 captain arrived, Arsenal were heavily linked with Youri Tielemans to bolster their midfield.

Youri Tielemans was on Arsenal's radar. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Youri Tielemans was on Arsenal’s radar. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

However, since Vieira’s arrival, the Gunners have indeed cooled their interest. Arsenal remain keen on signing the Leicester City and may make a move later in this window. For Arsenal, they might be the only team angling a move for Tielemans at this point and remain in a luxurious position to bring the price down later.

Vieira’s profile enables him to occupy the Odegaard role on the right side, and although he is not pencilled in to start games straight away, he could play alongside him, with the Norwegian then shifted to a no. 8 role on the left side. On paper, they could line up in a midfield trifecta, but Arsenal certainly need a solid option in central midfield.

Besides that, Vieira can play as a wide playmaker, but his presence does not alter any transfer plans or playing time of left-sided wide attackers such as Emile Smith Rowe or Gabriel Martinelli. Vieira is a brilliant backup for multiple positions.

However, if Arsenal do pursue Tielemans, it could spell the beginning of the end for Granit Xhaka’s Arsenal career, although Arteta is likely to keep the Swiss international for the upcoming season. In Vieira, Arsenal have a new creative option that could change their dynamics on the field without altering their plans too much.


A young player at 22 coming to the Premier League with a big, growing reputation from Portugal is likely to become an important star in the coming years. The former FC Porto star brings plenty of quality to this progressive Arsenal team.

Embed from Getty Images

Arteta is keen on playing high-level technical football and continues to eye-specific players to fill his squad. Having ensured the departures of those not needed for his style of play, Arteta has thoroughly re-built the team to his specifications and will continue to do so.

The acquisition of Vieira for a decent sum represents solid business from Arsenal. The 22-year-old is already compared to Bernardo Silva and will likely become a key player for the team in the coming seasons. For now, he will have to bide his time and learn from the Arsenal manager before even thinking of becoming a key part of the first-team setup at the Emirates.

His arrival allows Arteta to afford some breathing space for Odegaard, who was, until now, the creator in chief at the club. Vieira also gives Arsenal a fresh outlook towards playing technical football and will become an important player in the coming years, making work the famed blueprint of positional football the Spanish manager likes so much.

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