Arsenal’s defensive situation gets enough attention in the media. It has been a constant problem for them ever since Arsene Wenger was approaching the middle years of his tenure. It has carried on till date. And while the signing of Cedric Soares from Southampton did take some stick from fans, it just fits the demands of the current situation.
Cedric has arrived at the Emirates on a loan deal till the end of the season. His contract at Southampton runs out in the summer of 2020, meaning he was a cheap buy for any club in the world. While he does arrive on the short-term deal, that is a need of the hour for the Gunners.
The Portuguese has taken a lot of criticism from Southampton fans over the last two years. Since arriving from Sporting Lisbon in the summer of 2015, he made 138 appearances in all competitions for the club. While the first two seasons were seen as very good, he’s failed to impress since then.
But having said that, Cedric comes to the Emirates at the back of probably his best spell over the last two seasons. With the Saints having Yan Valery injured, Cedric became a regular at right-back under Ralph Hasenhuttl. He started all of the club’s games since the start of November and did a good job.
He will come to Arsenal with some confidence from the last spell at St. Mary’s. In his heydays, he was known to be a complete full-back. While he has developed some flaws, but he isn’t meant to play regularly at Arsenal.
For a player who’s come to the club for absolutely nothing, Arsenal couldn’t care less if the deal doesn’t go down as a success. They would want it to be a success. But it being a failure won’t hurt them at all. They aren’t losing money in the deal.
The Gunners have Hector Bellerin as the first-choice option currently. Young Ainsley Maitland-Niles was doing a job in that position when Bellerin was out due to injury. Cedric adds a back-up option- someone who has the experience and know-how of the Premier League and even international competition.
And the former Sporting man is well capable of playing at left-back too. Seven of his appearances at Southampton came from left-back. As things stand, Arsenal have been facing injury troubles in that position. Kieran Tierney is out with a shoulder issue. Sead Kolasinac’s niggles have seen Bukayo Saka become a fixture in that position, despite being a winger originally.
Cedric adds depth in that position too. The move to a bigger does come about 2 years late for him. But he will be a decent squad option for Arteta’s men. He was a regular under Luciano Spalletti at Inter last season, playing four Europa League games. He could be a similar player at Arsenal, who too are playing in the Europa League.
Martin Keown admitted to that in an interview recently. He said:
“It doesn’t block Bellerin’s path because he will know long-term, both Maitland-Niles and himself are the future.
“But they have had injury issues in that area and [Soares] is that sort of player, he plays very well out from the back, and it might be something [Arteta] is looking at – competition for places. I think that’s a good addition.”
The side is competing in four different competitions- Europa League, Premier League and the FA Cup. They have to deal with constant injury issues owing to depth. Cedric fixes that issue and adds some reliability. With no big money involved in the deal, it will never lead to a loss in any way.