Football

Why did Arsenal sign Viviano?

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As I sat at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday evening and the teams were read out, a thought struck me.

Starting on the bench for this Capital One Cup encounter was the usual mix of first-team stars to be used in case of emergency (Özil, Giroud) and youngsters sampling first-team action (Isaac Hayden).

But one name in particular caught my attention - Emiliano Viviano. Apart from rolling off the tongue in silky smooth fashion, the Italian's name sparked a thought - just what was the point of signing him?

Why sign a keeper - on-loan - when he's going to be third-choice. Wojciech Szczesny, barring a stunning collapse of form, is the established number one.

Lukasz Fabianski the club's number two. If Viviano can't even get a start for Capital One Cup games, why bother at all?

It seemed odd at the time, the deadline day deal nobody expected that was then overshadowed by the £42.4m arrival of Mesut Özil. Everyone thought Arsenal had plenty of goalkeepers.

Arsenal had sold Vito Mannone over the summer, a move which left Damián Martínez as Arsene Wenger's number three.

The Argentine was highly-rated among Arsenal academy coaches, but his poor display as the Gunners conceded five in the 7-5 Capital One Cup goal-fest seemed to have put paid to his first-team hopes.

But even if Martínez can't be trusted as third-choice, surely Arsenal have another up-and-coming keeper worthy of the opportunity.

Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool - all have two first-team keepers supported by a third youth prospect.

Ben Amos - United, Jamal Blackman - Chelsea, Danny Ward - Liverpool. Spurs have Lloris, Gomes and Friedel but they tried to loan Gomes out. What they didn't do, was to try and bring another in.

Manchester City are the exception - but few would expect a 35-year-old Richard Wright to be called upon in a crisis.

OK, I get the argument that it's just a loan deal - no harm done. But it still feels pointless, there's a reason clubs don't keep three international keepers on the books, it's allocating resources that could be better applied elsewhere.

Because Viviano is an international player. The Palermo stopper has six Italy caps, and made 32 appearances for Fiorentina last season as the club just missed out on Champions League qualification.

Why join Arsenal to sit behind Fabianski as the back-up keeper for cold Capital One Cup nights?

The 27-year-old was signed by Inter Milan just two seasons ago, and although an anterior cruciate ligament injury ruined his stay at the San Siro, he's still well-thought of in Italy after his season in Florence.

The Viola had first-option clause to buy him for €7.5m, but decided to promote Brazilian Neto into the starting role instead.

Arsenal now have a similar clause with Palermo, and while the agreed price is unclear, it's hard to believe Wenger would trigger it without seeing him in first-team action first.

That's almost certainly not happening in the Premier League, with Fabianski seemingly next in line to step in should Szczesny go down with injury.

So that leaves the FA Cup - but that could just be one match.

And adding to the frustration is the fact that Fabianski, and even Szczesny, are not exactly undroppable. Viviano could be the long-term answer!

For a club with title ambitions, Szczesny doesn't match up to the competition - chiefly Cech, De Gea and Joe Hart (present crisis excepted).

He's a very solid keeper, but he doesn't belong in the Premier League elite category. That's not to say that Viviano does, but with his resume it's worth a shot. Otherwise he will have wasted a year.

When he signed, Wenger described the deal as a "no-brainer". He saw Arsenal getting another "highly-rated goalkeeper" capable of competing for the number one spot.

It's on loan, so the expense was minimal and the club got extra competition for Szczesny. But for the player? The move looks pointless.

And for Arsenal, without at least testing Viviano, without at least finding out whether he can be the number one, the move looks pointless too.

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Topics:
Football
Premier League
Arsenal

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