By Aaron Catterson-Reid
Arsenal have confirmed the signing of Portuguese left back Nuno Tavares on a long-term deal.
The Gunners' first summer signing began his footballing career with Portuguese giants Benfica, making his first-team debut as an 18-year-old in October 2018 before going on to make an additional 40 appearances for The Eagles, an impressive feat considering they also employ talented Spanish full back, Alex Grimaldo.
Since his debut, Tavares has made noticeable improvements to his game and has quickly established himself as one of Portugal's most talented young defenders.
The 21-year-old has displayed remarkable versatility in defence since he broke on to the scene with Benfica.
He is predominantly a left back but has also been deployed as a left winger, as well as a right back during the early stages of the 2019/20 season, similar to Hale End graduate Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who can be utilised on either defensive flank.
Tavares is able to tuck into an inverted full-back role when called upon, but his tackling technique may need some work if he is to offer a viable alternative to Arsenal's current starting left back, Kieran Tierney.
Nevertheless, he stands at 6ft tall, making him the Gunners tallest full back and he possesses exceptional aerial ability, often utilising his tall frame to tower above opposing wingers at the back post when a cross finds its way into the box.
His aerial prowess may mean that Mikel Arteta could try him out in a back three, meaning that Tierney could play as an attack-minded left wing back in a 3-4-3 system.
Undoubtedly, Tavares' main strengths come in his ability going forward and running at the opposition
The Portugal Under-21 international possesses a rare blend of pace, excellent decision-making and a consistent whipped delivery down the left flank.
He boasts an extremely efficient offensive return with Benfica, bagging seven assists across 41 games for the Portuguese giants, an impressive feat considering he has started just over half of those matches.
Furthermore, his underlying numbers are just as impressive, registering 11 shot-creating actions across just 244 minutes of Europe League action.
Tavares himself describes his strongest attributes as coming from his attacking style of play.
"I am fast, I am good at shooting with my right foot, but I'm left footed," he told Arsenal.com.
"I can dribble, improvising. That's my qualities, my technique. I have more qualities and I will find more in this club."
Where will he fit in?
Given his aforementioned versatility, Tavares gives Arteta plenty of options in terms of systems and tactical set-ups.
He will most likely be Tierney's understudy going into next season and the Portuguese starlet is more than capable of playing as an inverted full back behind a traditional left winger that likes to hug the touchline, such as Bukayo Saka. He can also play as a full back that stays high and wide, allowing a wide playmaker to cut in from the left, something that Emile Smith Rowe was tasked with towards the end of last term.
Furthermore, if Arteta does opt to play Tavares alongside Tierney, then he could deploy a similar system that Steve Clarke utilises with the Scotland national team in a back five.
Clarke's left flank consists of Tierney and Liverpool's Andy Robertson and the two constantly interchange, underlapping and overlapping each other regularly in an attempt to give opposition right backs nightmares, while also having two fast players that have elite recovery pace to break-up counter-attacks, an attribute that Tavares possesses in abundance.
The 21-year-old boasts a unique combination of speed, close control and strong physique, meaning he won't take long to get to grips with the physical demand of the Premier League.
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