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Exit interviews: Nuno Tavares
Does the young fullback have a future at Arsenal?
Exit Interviews is a series where Scott and Adam share their opinions on next steps for select Arsenal players. The series will run through early June.
Nuno Tavares will return to Arsenal as one of only a couple players in the squad to have played Champions League football, having done so while at Marseille this season. With six goals on his CV in France, what’s next for the left back?
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Adam: Remember October 2021? What a time to be alive that was.
Nuno Tavares had just taken a couple of starts for an injured Kieran Tierney, and he looked like the future. But then the roller coaster that is Nuno Tavares reached its apex and began the high-speed plunge to the bottom.
By the end of last season, Nuno was largely persona non grata, with his defensive lapses proving too much to overcome.
The decision to loan him to Marseille was a good one, and at first Tavares looked like he might fetch a considerable sum if Arsenal wanted to sell, scoring three goals in August for his new club.
But Nuno’s form has stagnated since then. His defending and ball control has been rough, and he hasn’t scored since February.
The decision to loan him to a club where he’d play as a wingback rather than fullback, his position for Arsenal, always seemed to signal that Arteta and Edu had made their mind up on the player. Unfortunately, this looks more like a player who’s above his level, despite a considerable physical profile, than it does a diamond in the rough who just needs more time.
It will be interesting to see what sort of market there is for Nuno, but I’m expecting it to be mostly clubs at Marseille’s level or lower.
Adam’s verdict: Sell for £8-10 million.
Scott: I will start things by saying I think there is a very good reason that Tavares is on this list; it seems incredibly unlikely that he will ever play as a left back in a style that matches what Mikel Arteta wants for Arsenal.
That being said, with the churn happening in the Arsenal squad it is a bummer that someone of his physical skills cannot be found a home given the pretty obvious and painful tradeoffs that come with playing him.
It is clear from watching Nuno play that he is very much not a full back that is part of the five guys that look to defend but rather a bomb forward winger who just starts as a full back or wing back.
His stats profile has always shown a guy that puts up really good measurable numbers, he backs that up with a physical profile that is very impressive, where he should be a good total package even if his game is very raw.
It is just over and over that teams cannot get past the very costly losses of concentration and mistakes that he makes.
This is where I wonder if his game is actually one that needs to be pushed even further forward to being an actual winger where his defensive duties are secondary and perhaps his lapses are less costly to a team (I have sort of wondered if Arsenal get really desperate if they might try that with him on the right wing, but think that would mean the transfer window probably went really poorly). I am sure there are still teams out there that think they can fix him and that will probably mean he has a home at the end of the summer window but probably to a team that doesn’t have a ton of financial firepower.
Arsenal took a very low-cost punt on him and given that he is two years of transfer fee amortization meaning it doesn’t take much for Arsenal to turn a profit/break even on this sale.
Scott’s verdict: Sell for £5-10 million.