So often, the key to change is in the little things. To be sure, Fab’s departure to barca would be a big deal, no doubt. But many times the most minute transfers or introductions of new players can have a consequence beyond the obvious. This summer, Arsenal faces this opportunity with the (hopeful) return of a young player out on loan for the last three years: Pedro Botehlo.
Botelho’s arrival at Arsenal is not guranteed. He has spent the last three years in Spain in in order to qualify for a work permit to play in England. It was just a few weeks ago that Arsenal applied for a work permit for the young player for the upcoming season.
At 20, Botelho is young and yet to prove himself in the upper leagues. Who is Pedro Botelho? Originally signed as a 17 year old from Brazil, he arrived at the Club three years ago but was quickly loaned out because of work permit necessities to second division teams in Spain. At the time, Arsene was chasing another wunderkind from South America as well, Angel Di Maria. These two signings were to be the coupe de grace for Le Professor. Maria, however, decided to go to Benfica to get more first team opportunities; obviously that worked out well. Botehlo, however, two years younger decided to bide his time and signed with Arsenal.
GOA has feeling that Botelho has an opportunity to make a significant impact this upcoming season. Why? Because Botelho’s abilities give Arsene a huge amount of flexibility and some needed depth for the upcoming season. While he might not be the breakout player of the EPL -who knows, it’s possible -Botelho’s importance to Arsenal is his versatility and ability to immediately slot into the rotation, if not quite the First XI.
At 6’1, Botelho is extremely fast, strong and talented on the dribble; he plays mostly left full back, but he can also play on the left side in the midfield. At first glance, this might bode ill for the youngster, what with Clichy, Gibbs, Traore at left back; and, Arshavin and Rosicky plying the midfield. But I think the contrary is true. Given his size, pace and quality with the ball, Botehlo challenges every position on the left side.
Here’s the thing, assuming Botelho is granted a work permit he gives Arsene depth and flexibility.
1. Depth. Even with Clichy, Gibbs and Traore, Botelho provides added depth at the midfield with his pace and skills. He can rotate for Clichy or Arshavin, especially in lower cup competitions. And, for the last three seasons he’s been a starter, which means he’s ready to slot in now. We have a ready made replacement for Merida, but better.
2. Flexibility. Should the rumors be true, Arsene can complete the trade of Clichy for Melo without concern. With Gibbs waiting in the wings and Botehlo’s arrival, Arsene has huge depth at the left full back position. And once again, since Botehlo has been starting for the last three seasons in Spain, he’s ready to go. Although the competition isn’t the same, game time experience is still game time experience.
Some concern has been raised about the issues Botehlo has faced in Spain; namely, fights with managers at both clubs. I’ve read various rumors about the origins of the conflicts and frankly don’t know or care. If anyone can manage a young player it’s Arsene Wenger. But what I know is true, regardless of the conflicts he’s had, he’s been a starter at each club, so the talent must be there.