Arsenal have confirmed the signing of former Benfica left-back Nuno Tavares in a £6.8million deal. The deal, which will see the Gunners pay an additional £1.5million in add-ons, is Mikel Arteta’s first signing of the summer as the north Londoners face a first season without European football for a quarter of a century.
Tavares will wear the No 20 shirt at Arsenal and will act as competition for Kieran Tierney on the left-side of the Gunners defence. He will link up with his team-mates for pre-season when he completes a period of isolation after travelling from Portugal. Gunners boss Mikel Arteta told the club’s official website: ‘We welcome Nuno to the club. He is a young player with great promise who has developed very well with Benfica in recent seasons and has also shown his quality by being part of Portugal Under-21s.
‘Nuno’s arrival will give the squad extra strength and options in defence, particularly with this energy on the left side of the pitch. We look forward to Nuno’s arrival soon, his integration into the Arsenal family and playing in front of our fantastic supporters.’
Tavares described the Gunners as a ‘big club’ and revealed he admires several young Arsenal players like Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka, and he played against the former in the Under-21s European Championships earlier this year. The 21-year-old left-back added: ‘I’m so excited because it is a big club and for me as a young guy, it is a pleasure to be here.
‘It’s good for my career and to begin at Arsenal is a big club, and I’m very happy. (It’s) a good project. Young people, it’s good for me and we learn together, because we can understand together, and we can have an evolution together with the young guys. It’s the same. It’s a good project with young guys and we understand each other.
‘In the present I like (Emile Smith Rowe), because he is my generation. He’s played against us, on the same side – he played on the right, I played on the left – for the (youth) team. He’s a good player, and I see Saka too. Young players, good players. And from the past I like (Thierry) Henry. A very good player, and it’s good for me to remember that story.’
Sportsmail revealed this week that Real Sociedad tried to hijack the move and Arsenal technical director Edu Gaspar confirmed that the 21-year-old was wanted by several top clubs across Europe. Edu said: ‘Nuno is a talented young player who was wanted by a number of clubs across Europe. He will provide strong back-up in the left-back position. We look forward to him growing and developing with us and becoming an important member of the first-team squad.’
Arsenal are close to finalising a deal for Anderlecht midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga having raised their bid to around £18m including add-ons and are continuing discussions with Brighton over a £55m deal for Ben White. The south coast outfit are maintaining their stance of wanting £50m in guaranteed payments. Talks between both clubs are continuing over the structure of the deal, and England international White is keen to make the move.
Lokonga meanwhile earned his first call-up to Belgium’s senior squad this year, and he is also on Roberto Martinez’s standby list for Euro 2020. The north London club also want Sheffield United keeper Aaron Ramsdale plus a further two signings as they look for an attacking midfielder and striker.