Fabio Vieira Bides His Time In An Arsenal Shirt

Fabio Vieira
Photo Credit: AP

When the Fabio Vieira Arsenal transfer happened in the summer of 2022, it looked like the Gunners had got themselves a real bargain. The versatile Portuguese midfielder looked like the perfect fit for Mikel Arteta’s rebuild in North London.

Vieira is a big name at the club. Current Premier League boss Patrick Vieira was a legend in the heart of the Gunners’ midfield during his playing days. He’s now currently fulfilling the head coach role at Crystal Palace, while Fabio Vieira is finding his feet in a totally different capacity in the capital.

Fabio Vieira Porto Transfer

Fabio Vieira ended up with Arsenal after a summer transfer from Portuguese club FC Porto. The deal could go up to £34 million with add ons, which is a snap in this day and age for a quality midfielder. There were reports that a Fábio Vieira Liverpool link-up was going to happen.

However, a suggested first refusal that Liverpool had on the player was reported to not exist. Football news then skirted around that, instead reporting a different angle that Liverpool had not pushed for him to follow former Dragons teammate Luis Diaz to Anfield.

Arsenal got the green light for the player. In Vieira, Arsenal landed themselves a promising youngster who could develop into an international great. But there is work to be done and the first rung on the ladder for Vieira to climb is permanently cracking the Arsenal starting line-up.

Arteta Handles Vieira Arsenal Transition

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Arsenal’s manager Mikel Arteta, right, talks with his player Arsenal’s Fabio Vieira during the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Liverpool at Emirates Stadium in London , Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

A huge amount of credit can go towards Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta for the handling of Vieira, a self-described ‘rebellious’ youngster. In an interview earlier this season, Vieira stated that he didn’t do as much in school to learn English as he could have done.

He had a bigger desire to get out on the field and play football. That’s quite the admission and one that shows a tremendous amount of passion and desire for the game. But it’s potentially hindered his integration into the English club.

Primarily a Portuguese speaker, Vieira has had to deal with the transition to London.

Still, there surely would have been a big temptation for Arsenal boss Arteta to throw Vieira into action off the bat. After spending the money, there will have been pressure to play him. But that pressure has not been bowed to. Instead, Vieira has been slowly integrated into the Arsenal set-up, with Premier League starts being limited through the first half of the season.

Smart Integration

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Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka celebrates after scoring his side’s third goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, at Emirates Stadium, in London, England, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Mikel Arteta has made a great impression in his short managerial career for the man-management. He was firm with former striker Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang when a situation between them soured, but he’s also shown a very good nurturing side.

Granit Xhaka for example has been transformed under Arteta since the boss persuaded him to stay during last year’s January transfer window. Xhaka has not always had the greatest of relationships with Arsenal fans.

The former club captain famously stormed off at the Emirates during a Premier League match with Crystal Palace in 2019. He courted boos from his own supporters, cursing at Gunners fans on the way off.

Arteta has turned him around and now the midfielder is thriving. Arteta recognised that Xhaka could be moved out of his comfort zone. He was always primarily used as a holding midfielder, but has now been pushed further forward on the left of midfield.

When he has been used, Fabio Vieira has often been used on the right of midfield. Xhaka’s experience and flourishing presence in his new role, could be a huge influence on the young Vieira.

Vieira’s Craft And Style

Vieira caught the eye as a young player because of his craft and style in the middle of the park. He’s extremely comfortable on the ball and looks to pick his passes. The technical ability of Fabio Vieira is clearly one that resonates with Arsenal’s style.

The craft that Vieira has built into his game came through a long stint with FC Porto. He came through their youth ranks, winning the 2018/19 UEFA Youth League with Porto’s junior side.

He kept pushing his development and got his reward with a competitive debut for Porto’s senior side in 2020. That was after coming on as a substitute in a league victory over Maritimo. That debut was made towards the end of the season and was one of eight league appearances he would make for the Portuguese giants in that campaign.

More Game Time, More Influence From Vieira

Fabio Vieira was handed twice as many appearances by Porto in the following season’s Primeira Liga. He was also trusted with appearances in the UEFA Champions League. A big moment in his young career came in 2020 when he netted his first Champions League goal. The moment came in a group stage victory over Olympiacos at the Estádio do Dragão. It was only Vieira’s second appearance in the competition.

The 2021/22 season with Porto was when things came together even more for the youngster. He became more of a permanent fixture in Porto’s side, but there was also huge success to come on the international level. Vieira represented Portugal in the 2021 UEFA European Under-21 Championship.

Portugal lost the final of the competition 1-0 against Germany, but during the campaign, Vieira made a tremendous impression. So much so that he was handed the Player of the Tournament award. That form continued during his league campaign with Porto, his ability to create goals the outstanding feature of his game.

Vieira Arsenal Debut

The Fabio Vieira Arsenal debut came as a substitute early in the 2022/23 season. He made it onto the pitch at Old Trafford as Arsenal lost 3-1 against their old rivals Manchester United. That was Arsenal’s sixth fixture of the new season. So again, Arteta did not rush the player into action in the English top flight.

Arsenal have missed out on five seasons of UEFA Champions League football. It has been a big void at the club. But their presence in the UEFA Europa League has given Vieira a big platform upon which to make an impression.

His starting debut for the Gunners came in the group stage of the UEFA Europa League. All the while, the player, who had gone to London with a lightweight frame, was hitting the gym hard following his transfer. That’s part and parcel of life in the English Premier League it would seem. It’s a more physical place in which to try and survive than in his native Portuguese Liga Primera.

Fabio Vieira Setting High Standards

Announcing that you have been inspired by Cristiano Ronaldo and/or Lionel Messi is almost a sound bite that rolls off the tongue of any young attacking player these days. Those two legends of the game, who will continue to split arguments over the GOAT title for decades to come, were revealed as being Vieira’s influences, but for different reasons.

Work ethic, drive and pushing himself beyond his comfort zone, is what Fabio Vieira has taken away from Cristiano Ronaldo’s career. With Lionel Messi, the midfielder has drawn his own comparisons.

Vieira told the press that he sees himself in the same mould as Lionel Messi, who is still at his brilliant best with Ligue 1 giants PSG. Vieira cites his style as being much the same as the former Barcelona star. A blend of Ronaldo and Messi. That’s some lofty ambitions.

No Rush, No Fuss

If this turns out to be a fruitful season for Arsenal, then down the line, playing a part in their success could be an ace they have up their sleeve in Vieira. The first half of the season went brilliantly for the Gunners.

Pre-season in football betting odds, they had been seen as nothing more than a top-four contender with little hope of a title shot. But the Gunners were the dominant force in the first half of the Premier League season. That naturally made it tougher for Vieira to break into the side.

But with a demanding second half of the season to follow, that’s where Vieira could really make his mark on the team. It is where he could flourish if he is called upon. His physical development, his cultural integration and his grasp of the English language will all be greatly improved by then. His technical ability and fresh legs could be an asset to the club’s charge towards silverware.

Fabio Vieira Not Selected For Portugal World Cup 2022 Squad

It’s been a huge year for Vieira. The 2022 FIFA World Cup has come too early for him though. The midfielder, who was in the 55-man preliminary squad, was not selected to go to the tournament with Portugal. A lack of the first-team starts in the Premier League is probably a big factor in that.

So Vieira on the international front will have to bide his time as he searches for his first senior cap for his country. That will be tied into him locking down a permanent place in the heart of the Arsenal midfield. The 22-year-old has been a proven performer for Portugal’s Under-21 side, scoring 13 goals in his first 21 appearances for them. The Fábio Vieira stats there are hugely impressive.

They suggest that bigger things await him at the senior level. The international scene beckons for him. It appears to only be a matter of time before the big breakthrough happens.