As Arsenal clinched the signing of Cedric Soares on deadline day, it meant Mikel Arteta’s first transfer window at the club had gone well, alongside the addition of Spanish centre back Pablo Mari. I look at what Cedric will bring, where he could alternatively play and what it means for some of the other players.
What will he bring?
Cedric came through the ranks at Sporting before joining Southampton in 2015. He made over 100 appearances for the south coast side, registering 11 assists in the league. He has also been capped 33 times by Portugal and was part of their team that won the European Championship in 2016. Arteta said of the player: “He’s a player who’s got a big experience. He’s played in different countries., he’s played in this league, he knows what it means. he’s very willing to go to another top club and he’s got that desire, that commitment.”
What does it mean for Arteta and our style?
Well, Arteta has been using Maitland-Niles in an inverted role, almost as a third centre midfielder, which in transition allows Bukayo Saka (or the left full back) to push up and Granit Xhaka to fill in as a third centre back. However I don’t think this will be how Arteta uses him. Cedric himself said that he was a player who looks to go up and down rather than come inside, he has an excellent crossing ability, as well as adding to our abundance of able set-piece and free-kick takers. He is similar in style to Kolasinac, He is a strong, physical athlete who I believe will be an exciting addition to our defence and we now have 2 excellent out-and-out right backs.
I think Cedric’s particular style will help many players in the squad. It could allow Nico Pepe to push a little closer to the striker as an inside forward and play a little closer to Aubameyang/ Lacazette. It could push Mesut Ozil a bit further away from the right half space which he has been occupying a lot since the appointment of Arteta, it gives Maitland-Niles the opportunity to impress in a central role, for which he played in against Southampton in a 5-0 win in 2017 and against Manchester United in 2018, when he received man of the match.
Another option could be that Cedric could occupy the left back position, allowing Bukayo Saka to adopt his more natural position on the left wing, in a similar way that Cesar Azpilicueta does for Chelsea. Considering we have suffered injuries over the course of the season to Kieran Tierney and Sead Kolasinac this is another option which could give more freedom for Bukayo Saka.
With Hector Bellerin nearing full fitness and Cedric still out with injury, I think it’s an excellent signing as we are still fighting in the Europa League and FA Cup as well as the Premier League which may take the back seat for the remainder of the season. Arteta has realised that we cannot put square pegs in round holes and expect results and this is a player I have admired for many seasons, becoming an established right back during his time with Southampton.