Arsenal newcomer Fabio Vieira grew up without enough money to train – now he’s one of the best passers since Prime Ozil

DESPITE his immense talent, Fabio Vieira had to fight to prove people wrong.

Firstly, there were the coaches at the famous Porto academy, which Vieira joined when he was just eight years old, who questioned both his mentality and his physical condition.

Arsenal have agreed a fee with Porto to sign Fabio Vieira


Arsenal have agreed a fee with Porto to sign Fabio VieiraPhoto credit: Getty
The star had to reach the top the hard way


The star had to reach the top the hard way

In meetings, they likened the midfielder – who currently stands just 5ft 7in – to a beam of light that is far too often eclipsed in test moments when his team-mates need him most.

Then, after being promoted to Porto’s first team in June 2020, it was coach Sergio Conceicao who publicly criticized Vieira’s emotional stability and footballing toughness, as well as his tactical naivety and dedication.

Despite all these apparent ‘weaknesses’, Vieira leaves Porto and his native Portugal as one of the most technically gifted players the club and country have ever seen.

That’s why Arsenal and Mikel Arteta have taken the plunge in bringing the 22-year-old to north London.

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Looking for a creative midfielder, the Gunners have beaten Liverpool, Tottenham and Real Madrid to bring in one of the best creative youngsters in all of Europe.

Born into a humble family in the Santa Maria da Feira region, just 24km from the football-loving city of Porto, Vieira was first spotted playing a youth tournament in the Algarve.

There were other clubs in the running but Vieira has previously admitted Porto was the easy choice because it was ‘close to home’, bringing back memories of sitting with his father at the Estadio do Dragao as a young boy .

However, his childhood was difficult, his parents struggled financially to provide Vieira with the platform to make the most of his raw talent.


He was driven to academy training by the father of his best friend and current Porto right-back Joao Mario. Many say that without these elevators he would not have made it professionally.

Vieira has been labeled “rebellious” by some of his former coaches due to his challenging upbringing and frustration with the limitations in his own game.

The breakthrough ironically came against one of Arsenal’s London rivals when 18-year-old Vieira scored in a 3-1 win over Chelsea in the 2019 Uefa Youth League final.

Shortly thereafter, Vieira was quickly promoted to the first team before making his debut for Portugal U21.

During this time and in the years that followed, people saw the real Viira.

Speak to those closest to his development and they will tell you that there is no player in Europe right now who is more crucial in the last third of the pitch.

Last season, Vieira had seven goals and 14 assists – the best ratio per minute in Europe’s top leagues.

Conceicao never played him as a true No.10, instead embracing his inner Pep Guardiola to use him as a fake striker or reverse winger.

A floating playmaker free to splinter into gaps, Vieira’s final pass was described as “deadly” and “rare”.

Only Lionel Messi played more through balls per 90 minutes in Europe’s top leagues than Vieira did in the 21/22 season.

Perhaps not a comparison that Arsenal fans will be too happy about, but many see him as Mesut Özil 2.0 – a silky smooth wizard with ice running through his veins, rather than the later model of a grumpy, moody German with suspicious injuries to his back.

Others say he’s more in the mold of Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva, who is absent for large stretches, waiting in the shadows before springing to life in seconds.

Despite all that promise and excitement, doubts remain about how quickly Vieira will adapt to life in the Premier League.

He is a quiet, introverted character who has not yet fully matured and who is more responsive to a manager’s love and affection than to Jose Mourinho-style insults and mind games.

At first glance, he’s the complete opposite of his legendary north London namesake, the towering, powerful, intimidating Frenchman and Invincibles skipper who never shied away from a confrontation.

Although, like Patrick Vieira, he is said to be “emotionally volatile” on occasion in high-pressure situations.

But Arsenal will know exactly what they are investing in, a rising star who thrives when unleashed by tactical chains and encouraged to play off the cuff and create from scratch, giving the club a serious attack in recent years was missing.

And unlike Ozil, there is confidence that Vieira has the determination to prove these doubters wrong and adapt not only to Arteta’s high-punching, energetic arsenal setup, but also to life on the biggest stages. Arsenal newcomer Fabio Vieira grew up without enough money to train – now he’s one of the best passers since Prime Ozil


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