Defender criticised for familiar failings – ‘Arsenal are loaning him, it’s because they aren’t crazy’

Nuno-Tavares Marseille September 2022

Nuno Tavares may have chipped in with three goals for Marseille, but the on-loan Arsenal defender is coming under increasing scrutiny in the south of France.

The arrival of Oleksandr Zinchenko from Manchester City in the summer signalled the end for Tavares at The Emirates. Mikel Arteta paid £32m for the Ukraine stare and immediately allowed Tavares to move on.

Arteta did not sanction a permanent sale though for the 22-year-old. Instead Marseille were given the green light for a season-long loan deal. And Arteta will be hoping Tavares, who was a £8m signing from Benfica last summer, can develop like William Saliba.

Saliba spent a successful spell with OM las season, while he has also had loan spells with Nice and Saint-Etienne.

Those loans have certainly not done Saliba any harm. In fact the 21-year-old is now one of the first names on the team sheet and he already has two goals to his name this season.

If Tavares can return with anything like near the improvement Saliba has shown, then Arteta will be delighted. And going forward the Portuguese starlet has been good.

Three goals from left wing-back in the first four games has been a good return. But the defensive side of his game which was such a concern for Arteta has already been exposed.

Defensively weak

Tavares did threaten Rennes going forward with a couple of efforts on goal in the first half. But he was then caught out defensively as he failed to track his man allowing Rennes to take a 1-0 lead.

It’s that defensive fragility that is being highlighted in Ligue 1 and Tavares is starting to be criticised.

RMC Sport journalist Stephane Guy, relayed by Coeur Marseillais, said: “We are finding the limits of Alexis Sanchez. He didn’t play, or little, there were reasons. He will shine here and there that will make us say things, but overall, he isn’t the striker that the fans imagined at OM.

“It’s like Tavares. We have seen in recent weeks the limits of this player. We have also seen his qualities, he has some, but if Arsenal are loaning him, it’s because they aren’t crazy.

Tavares development

“What is apparent is that we have an OM Ligue 1 which is at the level, and then there is the Champions League which is another.

“It’s hard to question yourself in the league when you experience Champions League matches as they have experienced again this week. Once they are released from this Champions League, and it will be quickly now, they will find their stride in Ligue 1.”

Tavares did make 28 appearances last season. But with Kieran Tierney nearing a return to full fitness and Zinchenko’s arrival, Arteta was able to let Tavares move on.

“It’s announced it’s official and for Nuno’s development I think it’s going to be really important,” said Arteta in July.

“Obviously we have recruited Oleks in that position. And we have Kieran as well which is two really really good and strong players in that position.

“We believe Nuno’s best solution was to do that.”

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