What would Pedro Neto add to Arsenal?
A brief profile of the all-action Wolves winger linked to the Gunners
Who is Pedro Neto?
Pedro Neto arrived at Wolves from Lazio under a cloud of secrecy in 2019, as part of the ongoing deal-makings of the club with Portuguese super-agent Jorge Mendes.
It was Neto’s second near-€20 million move in two seasons, despite playing less than 300 minutes during his time first at Braga, and then at Lazio, as a senior player.
But while the Mendes-Wolves connection has been a weird one, there is no doubt he has brought some handy footballers to the Molineux, with Neto perhaps being chief among them. Predominantly playing a role of the bench in his first season at the club, Neto has gone on to be an ever-present in the starting XI, with a serious knee injury being the only thing disrupting his consistent run of starts.
And he has developed into a highly effective attacker that proved himself capable of carrying the burden of being the club’s primary attacking outlet when Raul Jimenez fractured his skull in 2020/21, but also being a more low-touch, high-impact player when called upon.
What is Pedro Neto's style of play?
Neto presents as an interesting squad option for a club like Arsenal for a few reasons. This is predominantly because there are a few different roles and ways he can be used. Firstly, he can play both on the left and right, and brings a presence both in and out of possession.
But perhaps more important is the underlying role. We’ve seen him at Wolves generally used as a high-volume ball carrier out wide – and that is probably a good fit for Arsenal’s right side with what they are currently doing with Bukayo Saka. But there is massive potential for him playing in a conventional Gabriel Martinelli-style wide forward role from the left.
Despite his knee injury in 2021, he’s clearly still retained his explosive burst to beat players one-on-one and he attacks space with confidence and intent. He is clearly inhibited by the overall bluntness of Wolves as an attacking force over the last two seasons though. With just 74 goals in 76 games in 2020/21 and 2021/22 combined, Neto has shouldered his part of the burden when fit, but has been let down by both the team’s attacking tactical choices and lack of personnel (back-up options for Raul Jiménez especially).
He is a constant outlet for Wolves and works hard to find space to receive and be the fulcrum of Wolves’ forays forward on the counter. He plays this role excellently because he is a great decision-maker in these deeper areas, generally preferring to play the role of recycler/facilitator than trying to be too aggressive as a dribbler.
But let’s come back to what he can bring to Arsenal:
1. Final third dribbling threat against set blocks
2. Comfortable playing with width as a disruptive dribbling creator
3. Playing in the half spaces as a penalty box threat that can create his own shots
The key weakness he has is in the in-between short combination part of the game. It might be hash to call it a weakness, because it’s not a big part of Wolves’ approach to attacking, but regardless you don’t see a lot of it from Neto. He is a bit two-paced; either barrelling into a dribble sequence with full intensity, crossing the ball or playing safe laterally or backwards.
This is something that should be coachable for a player with his technical foundations, but it will also mean that there will be a bedding in process and probably not a huge instant impact. Though, given Arsenal’s start to the season and the form of Martinelli especially, this might not be a major issue.
Which clubs have been linked with Pedro Neto?
Liverpool and Manchester United have been credited with interest in the past, but Arsenal have emerged as a front-runner to sign Pedro Neto in recent days, as reported by The Athletic’s David Ornstein.
Pedro Neto is a versatile wide player that excels as a high-volume dribbler, but also has shown great potential to be an option as a wide forward in the mould of Gabriel Martinelli.
Pedro Neto’s main weaknesses are as a passer. Creative final third passing is probably the most glaring skill lacking in his game, while the style of Wolves’ attack mean he has not had much experience playing in a system that requires good, short combination play.
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