Portuguese news outlet “O Jogo” report that Brighton have turned their attention to Arsenal’s Nuno Tavares as a Marc Cucurella replacement as they prepare for his departure. Marseille were reportedly the first interested in his signature but Brighton are the strongest candidate as of now.
The deal is likely to be a season-long loan.
NUNO TAVARES AS A PLAYER
Nuno operates almost exclusively down the left but is no stranger to filling in at right back when required. Arsenal haven’t used him there yet but Benfica did. Anything touchline and higher up the pitch, he’s comfortable with.
If he wasn’t a footballer, he’d be a track athlete. That’s what I always say. He’s that rapid. Even when Aubameyang was here, I still regarded Nuno as the quickest player at the club. Short distance, long distance, he blitzes anyone at the club. Everything about him screams ‘explosive‘.
He almost has the perfect build of a modern fullback. Standing at 6ft and with a lean body type and long gait, I’d almost go as far as saying he has no physical weakness in his game.
Technique-wise, he’s OK. But the needle shifts a lot more to the dribbling side of his game rather than his passing. His time at Arsenal has been extremely valuable for the development of that side of him. If I look at him now and back at the time he first came here, there’s a noticeable jump in that aspect. He can play short and get out of tight situations with both feet well but can also have blunders on the ball.
He’s super dangerous when you get him running at people and gets into shooting positions A LOT. He gets off almost 2 shots a game (1.8) which puts him into the 98th percentile compared to other fullbacks. He’s naturally attacking-minded and it shows, he wants to do everything forward and enjoys toying with opposition defenders as if he’s a true winger. He’ll cause chaos when he gets in his flow on his dribbles but be prepared to have a cover for him if he loses it in a bad spot. It’s almost like he’s too quick for his own good sometimes.
Let’s get into the bad stuff.
For all the praise I’ve given him, he has issues with consistency and executing simple things over and over again. His tehnical base is decent but the more you get him up the pitch, the more you’re likely to get something ‘better’ out of him. He can have concentration issues and needs maturing. Defensively, he’s not great and needs work.
He can be over-reliant on his physical attributes and unnecessarily gets into situations of ‘no return’ sometimes. He loves his freedom and strays from his position often. He’ll gain some ridiculous positions from his dribbles and interceptions but he can also lose the advantage he just gained like it’s nothing. His decision-making is not his strong point.
REPLACING MARC CUCURELLA
Brighton have chopped and changed between different variations of 3ATB and 4ATB this season under Potter.
Be that Trossard, Cucurella, or March, all of Potter’s wingbacks are the main source of width and generally enjoy a lot of freedom to carry the ball, create chances and advance into dangerous positions. Cucurella was used as the LWB but found himself as a third CB too at times. Don’t expect to see Tavares anywhere else other than the touchline tho, Brighton fans.
While there’s some difference in quality between the two, Tavares has a lot of room for positive improvement due to his exciting skillset. Brighton are not getting a replacement as complete as Cucurella but it’s a relatively low-risk loan with no obligation to buy (something Arsenal insisted on previously).
He needs a manager who’ll put his full trust in him and give him freedom in some areas while putting hard discipline into him in others. If Potter can do that, I see him becoming a world-recognized fullback.
As far as Arsenal are concerned, this is a top move for them. A player they bought for €8m, who’s already worth double that, gets a chance to be a regular in a progressive team under an exciting coach.
On the other hand, Nuno has earned himself a great loan which makes sense for him. A position that fits him and a club which will give him the playing time. If this one goes well, I can see Arsenal moving on, unfortunately. The competition for the LB spot is heavy and Tierney and Zinchenko are likely to take all the minutes there. But the best ability is availability and if Tierney keeps being out on the sidelines and Nuno’s loan goes well… who knows?