Mikel Arteta was singing the praises of Cedric Soares in his pre-Norwich City press conference on Tuesday, after the defender returned from injury this week.

Cedric Soares (Photo via Soares on Twitter)
Cedric Soares (Photo via Soares on Twitter)

Signing from Southampton on a permanent deal this summer, Cedric Soares is finally preparing to make his debut for Arsenal under Mikel Arteta in the coming weeks. He’s fit and available from tomorrow’s game against Norwich City onwards.

The full-back spent the last five months on loan, but he didn’t play a game thanks to a mixture of injuries and coronavirus disruptions. As a result, the Arsenal fans have grown more and more hesitant about him.

After all, the supporters don’t get to see the players in training. They have no reference points for how the 28-year-old is doing and whether he looks sharp. Arteta does, however, and he seems to rate Cedric highly.

“He’s a different quality in the full-back area than what we have,” Arteta said. “He’s a gifted, technical player and is probably the best we have in the final third to make the right decision and attack the box as well.

“He can play in a four or a five, he’s a really good player with experience in the Premier League that can help us.”

That all sounds encouraging. Cedric earned a lot of praise during his time with Southampton, but the last year-and-a-half certainly introduced some doubters.

First, there was an unsuccessful loan to Inter Milan. Though he provided assists in two of the three Serie A games he started, he sat on the bench for most of the rest of the spell.

After that, the Portuguese international had to fight for his place with Southampton. He was back on form by the end of his time there (before the injury), but we’ll have to see if he can pick up where he left off now.