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For once, the captaincy is not at issue Arsenal which highlights just how much things have improved on and off the pitch in the past year.
It’s coming up to 12 months since Mikel Arteta made a bold decision to strip Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of the armband as a punishment for another disciplinary issue before entrusting Alexandre Lacazette to skipper the side for the remainder of the 2021/22 season.
Of course, that was always expected to be a short-term solution and with the Frenchman being released when his contract expired at the end of June, Arteta needed to name a replacement and did so by appointing Martin Odegaard as Arsenal’s new permanent captain in the summer.
The playmaker, who is also the captain of the Norway national team, is supported by Granit Xhaka and summer signing Gabriel Jesus as part of the Gunners’ three-man leadership group, whilst Rob Holding has worn the armband on occasions this season as one of the senior players in the squad.
Interestingly, Arteta has quietly built an impressive young leadership group at Arsenal with eight of the last 11 players he’s signed all aged 23 or younger at the time of their arrival at the Emirates Stadium with the Spaniard seeing leaders in Odegaard and Albert Sambi Lokonga despite their tender years.
“I think we are building some leadership in the group,” he said when speaking to the club’s official website just over a year ago. “It’s a really young group, with a lot of players under 23. Martin is the captain of the national team and Sambi was the captain at Anderlecht.”
Furthermore, central defender William Saliba has been tipped to join the leadership group one day as some Arsenal fans are of the opinion that Arteta has another future captain in the ranks after the Frenchman captained France U21s during his successful loan spell with Marseille last season.
With that said, the Gunners have another future contender for the captaincy in Fabio Vieira who joined the club in the summer from Porto in a deal worth £34m. Now, the excitement regarding his signing mainly centered around his eye for goals and assists, but his leadership qualities were revealed too.
During the summer, Arsenal conducted an interview with Portuguese football journalist Tom Kundert who made it clear that the north London outfit had signed more than just a playmaker: “He’s pretty much the boss of that Portugal Under-21 team and has been for the last year or so,” Tom revealed. “It’s quite a thing watching him, pointing, telling his teammates where to go and organising the offensive setup. He does it very effectively as well.”
A reminder of Vieira being the ‘boss’ of the Portugal u21s occurred during this international window as he captained the side against their Czech Republic counterparts last Friday before completing his post-match obligations following Tuesday’s loss against Japan despite being a second-half substitute.
“We knew that Japan had a good team with quality players – very aggressive. In the first half, we were poorly organised. The second half was different and we adjusted a little, pressed when we had to press, and continued to look for the depth. But unfortunately, Japan got the win,” he said.
“We are here to prepare for the European Championships. We know that the level we will find there is quite high, with high-quality teams equal to us. These games help us take what we have done less well and correct it for the Euros.”
Even at a young age, Vieira’s leadership qualities are for all to see. Now, the chances of him receiving the armband at Arsenal in the next couple of years are fairly low, considering he’s only just arrived, is quite far down in the pecking order and is still adapting to life in England after his big-money move.
Although, if he can find some consistency on the pitch, there’s a good chance he could be part of the leadership group at some point in the near future.