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Arsenal’s unsung hero on the sidelines

How this staff member has proved to play a crucial role in the players’ development.

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Arsenal have come a long way since the appointment of Mikel Arteta in 2019. Since his appointment, Arteta has changed a lot of things around the club which has led to its comeback as a club that fights at the top of the Premier League table.

when Mikel Arteta got the Arsenal job he brought in his own team of assistant managers, and one of them was Carlos Cuesta, who at the time was only 25-years-old.

Although his role in the club is an individual development coach, his official title is one of the managers assistants. At only 25-years-old, which is very young for a coach, he’s a man who knows the mentality that’s needed for a club to fight at the very top.

Carlos Cuesta working with Bukayo Saka

Who is Carlos Cuesta?

Carlos Cuesta began his career in football by trying to make it as a professional player, he played alongside Marco Asensio in a Balearic islands section in Spain. However, he had realised that he would not be able to make it as a professional footballer and then went on to apply to Atletico Madrid via twitter and went on to get a job as an assistant working with the lowest age group.

Eventually he made his way up to the U-19 Atletico Madrid squad after which he left to study at the University of Porto, in Portugal. After 4 years of studying, he was appointed as the assistant manager of the Juventus U-17 squad and then finally joined Arsenal in August 2020.

In the University of Porto, Cuesta was a student of Vitor Frade, a person who is not a big name but has had a massive influence in football and has been described as a genius. Jose Mourinho was one of Vitor Frade’s students and we all know Mourinho and what an incredible career he has had as a manager. In an interview with Sky Sports, Carlos Carvalhal, a former student of Frade said, “Vitor Frade is the brain of it all. He is the brain of a thing called tactical periodisation. You could call him a kind of scientist but he is a very practical scientist because he worked at Porto under Sir Bobby Robson and he did his work on the pitch.” 

Tactical periodisation is a method which focuses more on game preparation. There are many interpretations of how this method is used however, sometimes it gets misinterpreted. One of the interpretations is by training the players individually, showing them what to do with the ball? Where to stand to receive the ball? And to summarise it, how and where to fit into a team’s tactical system? This is precisely what Cuesta does and he does it very well might I add. Cuesta works one-on-one with every member of Arsenal’s first-team squad, he is able to communicate with the players better as he can speak 6 different languages which are: English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, French and Catalan. However, this isn’t the only reason, another one is that he is also of a similar age group to most Arsenal players, and this helps him understand the players in Arsenal better. Nuno Tavares said in the Amazon Prime documentary, All or Nothing, “Carlos, he can understand players because he is young too.”

One of the biggest gifts Cuesta has given Arsenal is Eddie Nketiah. In the absence of Gabriel Jesus, Eddie Nketiah has stepped up massively and is in a particularly fine form as of right now. His development both as an individual and on the pitch is massively credited to Cuesta, Nketiah’s technical ability and the ability to adapt into the Arsenal system is all the work of Cuesta. Much like Nketiah, the entire team’s ability to understand how to function in a system is the work of Cuesta. However, he uses video analysis rather than a physical method of teaching, so he works with the players individually at the end of the day and helps them understand the technical aspect of games, find the mental strength needed to cope with unusual situations, etc. He helps them find out their strengths and leads them to develop into a better player by choosing a role most suitable to those strengths.

Because of the way he understands the players, not only physically but also mentally, he is able to help them develop much more effectively. He is of great value to our squad and a huge part of the reason Arsenal’s youngsters are leading the team. With the era of football constantly progressing and changing, having figures like Cuesta who can concentrate on getting the best out of each individual player is a huge advantage for Mikel Arteta.

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