Arsenal already have £35m Moussa Diaby alternative who is 'similar' to Bernardo Silva

As Arsenal prepare to retake their seat at Europe’s top table next season, it’s no secret that they’re going to be busy in the transfer market. Mikel Arteta has already admitted that if he and his side are going to challenge for both the Premier League and Champions League next season, then reinforcements will be required.

“With the level that is required for the Premier League and to fight for the Champions League, the way we have to fight for the Champions League, there’s a lot to think about,” he admitted after the 3-0 defeat to Brighton on Sunday.

One of the areas they are reportedly keen on strengthening is the attacking line and a player who has been heavily linked thus far has been Bayer Leverkusen’s Moussa Diaby. Arsenal may well already have the player they need, though.

When it comes to the forward positions, Arsenal are relatively well stocked as it is. Gabriel Jesus is the Gunners primary centre forward with Eddie Nketiah as his back up, while Gabriel Martinelli and Leandro Trossard have been competing on the left for much of this season.

Behind Bukayo Saka though, there is no obvious back up. Both Reiss Nelson and Emile Smith Rowe can play in the position, but both are right footed and neither can replicate Saka’s ability to go both ways in one-vs-one duels. It’s also worth noting that both could leave this summer as well.

If Diaby were to arrive at the Emirates, then it would seem that this is the position he would take up. The Frenchman is a left-footer who possesses dribbling skills similar to those of Saka, and a keen eye for goal having netted 14 times for Leverkusen this season. Arteta though, has already signed a player in that position.

Last summer with all the focus on the big signings of Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus, the £35million arrival of Fabio Vieira went under the radar somewhat. Unlike the two Manchester City signings that had been reported about for weeks and even months prior, Vieira’s signing caught most by surprise. Perhaps it was due to this that hype around the Portuguese youngster never quite reached the levels of fellow summer arrivals. Mikel Arteta though was clearly a big fan from the off.

“We were looking for players that could play in three positions in the front-line, and in the attacking midfielder positions,” he said in September. “We were looking for very specific qualities in the market and when I saw him, I really liked what I saw. Straight away, I was convinced that he was a player who can help us go to the next level and that he had the right personality and character to play for our club.”

While most of his football has come in one of the eight positions, Arteta’s early comments appeared to suggest that Vieira could be used along the front line. There are plenty though who would have mixed feelings about relying on him given the 22-year-old’s patchy first season in England. In his most recent display in the 3-3 draw with Southampton he looked a player devoid of confidence, and as Arsenal were struggling to force a comeback against Brighton on Sunday, Vieira remained an unused sub.

There are, however, mitigating circumstances to that. Vieira arrived at Arsenal with a foot injury that saw him miss the entirety of pre-season. From that point on he was playing catch up and was forced to play games with the under-21s in order to get up to speed. He has since admitted that this made the adaptation process difficult.

“I got here injured,” he said in March. “It’s always different for a new player, arriving here, in a new country, a different culture, everything is different.

“It was difficult, but after a few months I’m ready, I’m enjoying it, I’ve already developed a lot and I’m here to help the team. When you arrive injured, you are always one step behind the others. I think it’s a matter of time, to be there, help the team, show my qualities.”

Those qualities are ones that Arteta clearly rates very highly. Vieira himself has drawn comparisons between his own style and that of Bernardo Silva. “He’s an extraordinary player, I know him very well,” he said earlier in the season. “I think we are similar players, with similar qualities. Of course I admire him.”

Like Vieira, Silva had a slow first season in England, scoring just one Premier League goal in his first half-season at Manchester City.

As Arsenal seek to prepare for next season’s Champions League their priorities for investment are the central midfield areas where Declan Rice and Moises Caicedo are targets, and the centre-back position where Marc Guehi is among those being considered. With all three likely to be expensive deals, Arteta and Edu could look to save £50million on Diaby by betting on their £35million signing from last summer.

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