Analysing Arsenal’s transfer business

Arsenal are not messing about this summer. 

Mikel Arteta’s side caused a stir when they activated Fabio Vieira’s release clause. The Porto midfielder, linked with Liverpool over the last 12 months, cost €35million and adds greater depth to their already stacked playmaker ranks. 

Matt Turner joined as a backup goalkeeper, making the leap from Major League Soccer to the Premier League, while Marquinhos is another young attacker plucked from Brazil. That particular formula worked with Gabriel Martinelli. 

However, their latest signing could well cause the biggest splash, with the Gunners parting with £45million to pry Gabriel Jesus away from champions Manchester City. It reunites the Brazil international with former Citizens assistant coach Mikel Arteta and is a statement signing for Arsenal as they look to return to the Champions League. 

Jesus has been given the No9 jersey, recently vacated by the out-of-contract Alexandre Lacazette, and he went out of his way during his first interview as an Arsenal player to clear a few things up with regards to his position. 

“I’m a No9,” Jesus said. “I’m a striker and I thank God every day that I can be alive and that I can play in three or four different positions but I think my position is nine.”

There had been some talk that his best role was out wide and that is why Pep Guardiola used him there. South American football expert Tim Vickery added fuel to this theory when he revealed that Jesus told Brazil coach Tite that he preferred the wide role. 

 Jesus was emphatic though. He is not just a nine in number. He is a No9. 

After all, he has the instincts of a goalscorer. His shot map is a work of art; he has mastered being in the right place at the right time. 

However, there are a few things to consider. Jesus averaged 3.3 shots per 90 in the Premier League with Manchester City.  His best return of 14 goals was when he averaged 4.5 shots per 90 – so he is a volume player. 

For context, Lacazette averaged 2.2 shots per 90 during his final campaign with the Gunners and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang averaged 2.3 in his last complete season at the Emirates. If Jesus is going to score goals, Arteta’s side are going to have to scale up their chance creation. 

This might explain the signing of Vieira. 

He is a chaos maker. 

As shown in his passes into the penalty area map for 2021/22, he looks to get the ball into goalscoring areas from across the pitch. There is no set Vieira move or zone. For example, Kevin De Bruyne is famed for those balls into the box from the inside right channel. It is not too dissimilar to where Trent Alexander-Arnold is at his creative best. 

Vieira is content across the width of the pitch and, though he can thread passes between the lines in the traditional sense, he also has the ability to attempt passes from deeper parts of the pitch. He is a multifaceted threat and this is what makes him a difference-maker. 

He is a playmaker who can operate in zones not commonly associated with players of his profile.

Arsenal have a very rehearsed style. It can almost be robotic at times but the purpose is for it to be instinctive and natural. This can still be the case but, by bagging the Portugal Under-21 international, they’ve added an extra layer to their attacking options and this can benefit Jesus. 

Vieira was a high-volume creator for Porto. Jesus was a high-volume attacker for Manchester City. Together at Arsenal, they can be high-volume players who fire Arteta’s side into the Champions League. 

In this article, all graphics were produced in the Twenty3 Toolbox.

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