Arsenal have agreed a deal with Benfica to sign the left back Nuno Tavares for an initial €8m (a very nice £6.9m) according to various reports. Tavares, 21, has played 30 games across two seasons in the Portuguese league and Europa League for Benfica, starting 20 games, including a brief appearance against Arsenal in last season’s Europa League.
Tavares will provide backup and competition for Kieran Tierney, and, at 6’0, perhaps a different kind of physicality at left back. While Tavares can apparently play right back, a brief perusal of YouTube makes him look very left footed.
Kieran Tierney’s importance to Arsenal was underlined by his new contract last week, and it is also underlined here by buying a specialist backup. Arsenal let Sead Kolasinac go last January without replacing him, and they suffered for it. Cédric deputised for Tierney, and was fine, Granit Xhaka did well but is also not a left back, and Bukayo Saka is too important to the attack to play at left back in most matches. A specialist left back was needed, and Arsenal have secured one cheaply—and as Tavares was 20 on New Years’ Day 2021, he will not count towards the 17 non-home grown players in the squad for the upcoming season.