The 4 players Arsenal signed from the Primeira Liga & how they fared

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Luis Boa Morte playing for Arsenal in the Premier League. September 1997.

Arsenal signed Fabio Vieira from Porto this summer – but they’ve not had much success with players from the Primeira Liga.

Vieira cost the Gunners around £36million and has become just the fifth player to move directly from the Portuguese top flight to Arsenal. 

We’ve taken a look at the previous four and how they fared at Arsenal. Note: we’ve not included any academy graduates that didn’t make any first-team appearances. 

Stefan Schwarz

After helping Sweden to a third-place finish at the 1994 World Cup, Schwarz decided to leave Benfica and joined Arsenal in a £1.8millon deal.

The midfielder was initially billed as a playmaker who could fill the void left by David Rocastle, but he instead became the water carrier under George Graham.

His arrival also coincided with a transitional period for the Gunners and they had a disastrous season in the Premier League, finishing in 12th place.

Schwarz was still a pivotal figure in Arsenal’s run to the 1995 European Cup Winners’ Cup final, scoring a late equaliser against Sampdoria in the semi-finals. 

But their 2-1 defeat to Real Zaragoza in the final proved to be his 45th and final appearance for the club. After Graham was replaced by Bruce Rioch, Arsenal signed David Platt and Schwarz was allowed to join Fiorentina in a £2.5mllion move. 

“I can’t say George Graham did anything wrong at Arsenal because he won so much, but it was a very direct way of playing – more than I was used to,” he told FourFourTwo in 2021.

“I wanted to be utilised in more of an attacking sense. If the style had been slightly different, maybe I would have made an even bigger impact.”

He later returned to England with Sunderland, who insisted on a clause in his contract preventing him from going into outer space. And no, we’re not making this up.

Luis Boa Morte

One of Arsene Wenger’s first signings at Arsenal, Boa Morte came through the academy at boyhood club Sporting Lisbon before moving to north London in 1997.

He scored two goals in 21 appearances in his debut season as Arsenal won the Premier League and FA Cup double in 1997-98. 

But the former Portugal winger never established himself as a first-team regular and was sold to Southampton for just £500,000 in 1999.

Rui Fonte

Having poached Boa Morte from Sporting’s academy in 1997, Arsenal returned to the Portuguese club in 2006 and signed a 16-year-old Fonte.

The winger showed plenty of promise in the youth teams and made his senior debut in 2008, coming off the bench in a League Cup win over Wigan.

That proved to be his one and only appearance for the Gunners, and he decided to return to Sporting following the expiration of his contract in 2009.

“I was 16 and stayed there until I was 19 – it was good but it was difficult because I was too young,” Fonte said in 2017. 

“When you’re that young, if you’re not strong enough mentally it gets real tough when the hard times come but now I’m 27, it’s been a long time since then. It was a good thing for my career to get mentally strong however.”

Nuno Tavares

Signed from Benfica in a £7.2million deal in the summer of 2021, Tavares was brought in to act as cover for Kieran Tierney at left-back.

The Portugal Under-21 international made 28 appearances in all competitions in his debut season and scored his first goal for Arsenal in a 3-1 win over Manchester United.

But he’s often looked vulnerable defensively and even suffered the ignominy of being substituted before half-time after an error-strewn display against Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup.

“Throughout your career, you have to go through really difficult moments,” Mikel Arteta said after Tavares was later subbed off at half-time against Crystal Palace.

“He had some really good periods when he arrived at the club and was playing many more minutes than he was probably expecting.

“This is the development of any young player. You go through ups and downs and we’re here to help him to make his career better. He’s ready and he’s willing. He will be disappointed but that’s part of the job.”

According to reports, his Arsenal future is in the balance just 12 months on after his arrival at the Emirates.

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