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OFFICIAL: Arthur Cabral sold to Benfica

Tchau, Re Arthur.

ACF Fiorentina Training Session And Press Conference - UEFA Europa Conference League Final 2022/23 Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images

With M’Bala Nzola arrived and Lucas Beltrán incoming (assuming he doesn’t Berbatov his way to AS Roma), Fiorentina was always going to get rid of a striker. Luka Jović’s contract makes him difficult to sell, so Arthur Cabral was the likeliest target, and sure enough, he’s now a Benfica player. He’s signed a 5 year contract with the Eagles that will pay him €2.5 million a year, and the Viola will get €20 million for him, as well as a potential €5 million more in performance-related bonuses.

The Brazilian had a slightly odd career in Florence. Originally brought over from Basel in January 2022 to replace Dušan Vlahović, he predictably struggled to adjust to a new country and tougher league for the first half season, but really settled in at the start of last year and showed signs of being a reliable 15-goal Serie A striker, highlighted by a run of 10 goals in 14 matches, but he fell out of Vincenzo Italiano’s favor by the end of the year and wound up behind Jović.

As a player, Cabral certainly has his warts. His first touch escapes him too often and he’s oddly hesitant to roll his man and shoot. Still, he was an excellent system fit due to his fantastic work out of possession and ability to hold up play. And, of course, he could silence critics with some absolute bangers; there’s a reason that 2 of our candidates for goal of the season came from him, and he just barely missed winning it.

Oh, that was his 2nd-best effort. Here’s the one yall voted as being better.

Goals like those are the work of genius, but it’s Arthur’s personality that I’ll miss most. A hench dude with a marvelous hairline and unique running style—chest out, chin up, arms pumping at perfect 90° angles—is inherently fun. Add in his quirks (e.g. always taking a sip out of the opposing goalkeeper’s water bottle at corners) and his sweet, goofy earnestness (joining a bunch of kids kicking the ball around and agreeing to play goalkeeper for them) and you have a legend in the making.

He’ll get a chance to start at Benfica, too, as Petar Musa and Casper Tengstedt aren’t very well established in the squad. He’ll also get a chance to star in the Champions League with the Portuguese giants, and his reputation as a European specialist—he led the Conference League in goals last year—should endear him to the fans, even though he’ll probably be in another timeshare situation.

Fiorentina likely couldn’t turn down €20 million for him, given the circumstances, but I’ll always think of him as one that got away, not least because Benfica are generally very shrewd operators in the transfer market and clearly see something in him. It feels like he never got a full opportunity for Fiorentina, but il re Arthur definitely left his mark.

The King is dead. Long live the King.