Having already secured the services of defender Marquinhos and goalkeeper Matt Turner (subject to completion), Arsenal turned its attention to midfield, moving swiftly for Fábio Vieira from Portuguese champions Porto for a fee of around £31.5 million. Considering how quickly the signing was made, I am pretty sure that many Gunners are still unaware that their club just signed a promising young midfielder. But fans who were able to decipher the clever wordplay in Arsenal’s Twitter feed were given clues in advance:
Now that the transfer is a mystery no more, let’s delve into the world of Fábio Vieira and see what we can make of him.
Fábio Daniel Ferreira Vieira was born on 30 May 2000, making him just one month past his 22nd birthday. Born in Portugal’s Santa Maria da Feira of Aveiro district, Fábio joined the Porto academy at the tender age of eight. He rose through the ranks of the Dragões and spent the 2015-16 season on loan to Padroense’s U-17s before making Porto’s Juniors side in 2017.
He started to attract attention in and around Porto when he commenced playing with Portugal’s U-18 and U-19 sides while also making an impact at the senior level during 2018.
The Portuguese played at the heart of a Porto team that would go on a magnificent run all the way to the 2019 UEFA Youth League Final. He wore the armband and tendered some fabulous performances culminating with the opening goal in the championship match, which Porto youth eventually won 3-1 defeating Chelsea in Nyon, Switzerland.
Vieira made his senior debut with Porto B during the same season, subbing on for João Mário in a 1-0 defeat to Arouca on February 24, 2019. His first goal at the senior level came on August 25, 2019, in a 3-1 win at Farense. Fábio continued to play a key role for Porto’s B team with seven goals plus three assists in the second division before the pandemic stoppage.
He made his first-team debut on 10 June 2020 from the bench, featuring for only 19 minutes with Porto edging past Marítimo by a 1-0 scoreline. Three weeks later, he would again come from the bench, scoring his first goal in the Primeira league to help his side beat Belenenses SAD 5-0. The then-21-year-old totalled eight league appearances for the Primeira Champions that season.
The 2020-21 season saw Vieira become a regular member of the senior team, starting in Porto’s first two Champions League group stage matches — a 3-1 loss to Man City and a 2-0 win vs Olympiakos, the latter seeing him score at the Estádio de Dragão.
On 20 March 2022, his 32nd-minute strike decided the local derby at Boavista. He scored his first league brace two weeks later, his side’s first and second goals in a 3–0 home win over Santa Clara.
Fábio’s time with Portugal’s U-19 national team has also been impressive. During the 2019 UEFA European U-19 Championship, he played all five matches, scored a marvelous free-kick against Armenia, and capped it all off by being named in the Team of the Tournament. Unfortunately for him, the star-studded Portugal side consisting of the likes of Vitinha and Diogo Costa would eventually succumb to a defeat in the final, finishing runners-up to Spain.
Vieira would provide seven goals plus two assists in eight games during Portugal’s qualifying phase for the 2023 U-23 Euros, wearing the captain’s armband in his last three matches, and excelling at his strongest position: attacking midfield.
With the departure of Luiz Diaz to Liverpool, Fábio’s impressive performances propelled him up the Porto ranks, eventually cementing his status as a starter. Voted Primeira Liga Player of the Month for April, he helped Porto storm to its second title in three years (losing just one league game all season). In just 27 appearances, he finished the campaign with six goals plus a league-high 14 assists. That works out to an assist every 95 minutes – better than any other player in Europe’s top seven divisions last season. Says journalist Tom Kundert:
“He’s coming off a really good season, his best so far and his first where he has been a regular in the Porto side, who won the league. He contributed significantly to that. If I was an Arsenal fan, I’d be delighted, and here in Portugal, as fans of Portuguese football, we’re excited to see how he does at this stage of his career.”
How will Fábio Vieira fit in at Arsenal?
Kundert describes Vieira this way:
“I think it’s a really exciting signing for Arsenal, without a doubt, he’s one of Portugal’s most promising, up-and-coming talents. He’s very stylish, and an extremely smooth operator. In terms of players currently in the Premier League, I’d say he’s similar in style to Bruno Fernandes. Even his physique is similar in a way.”
For me, however, he is more reminiscent of Mesut Ozil on a good day — not the most powerful but arguably the smartest left-foot in the world during his prime. The 22-year-old is skilled at linking up with fellow forwards and midfielders with quick lay-off passes and one-twos, a player who knows how to keep possession moving but who is also able to pull the trigger and break down deep blocks with one incisive pass. He can also threaten the goalkeeper from distance and is developing a reputation as a dead-ball specialist too.
Here’s what we can expect to see from the young Portuguese:
Considering his attack-minded nature, he won’t contribute much in defense, but that’s what Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka are for, right?
Despite his obvious talent, Vieira does not look like a viable candidate for a position in your fantasy team, at least during the initial stages of the season anyway. Unfortunately, the midfielder will have to compete with Martin Ødegaard for the #10 role at Arsenal — a tall order given Ødegaard’s stupendous 2021-22 season and rumors that Arteta could even hand the captain’s armband to the Norwegian.
Vieira is versatile enough to make the flanks an option, but with Bukayo Saka locked in on the right, and Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith Rowe already competing for starts on the left, Vieira will find it hard to wedge himself into any position in Arsenal’s attacking midfield lineup.
So my suggestion to fantasy managers is to watch and wait. With Arsenal competing for three domestic trophies plus the Europa League, injuries and rotation could present Vieira with opportunities to feature in the EPL. When and if that happens, he’s likely to offer an inexpensive route into the Gunners' attack for managers who don’t already own Arsenal’s premier assets, or who want additional Arsenal exposure.
What do you think of Fábio Vieira? What are your FPL plans regarding him?
Do let us know your thoughts down below in the comment section and I would be happy to join the conversation with y’all!