According to reports, it seems to be a straight shoot out between Sami Khedira and William Carvahlo to become the next Arsenal defensive midfielder for the 2014/15 season.
Both have their advantages and disadvantages. One is experienced, comes with a low fee, but high wages. The other has potential, comes with a high fee but low wages. Both are suitable for the role and both are realistic targets.
But why do we need to talk about ‘either/or’. Why can we not sign both.
“We do not need two defensive midfielders” I hear you cry. Maybe you are correct, but stick with me, lets work this out.
Sami Khedira is 27. He is ready now. He could slot in and perform from day one. He is a class talent. William Carvahlo is 5 years his junior, rawer and would take a bit more time to settle in. You could easily have Khedira in the squad for 5 years, and by the time his legs start to go, Carvahlo will still only be 27 himself.
Both would get plenty of playing time. With defensive midfield being the position you are most likely to pick up bookings, there will be suspension aplenty. It would also give us the option of playing both men in the tougher games. After heavy defeats to Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool last season, it would make sense to start both men to create and stronger defensive spine. Add in Aaron Ramsey and it would make the middle of the park pretty impenetrable.
And who is to say we can not play both men every game? With reports that Alexis Sanchez will be our first choice striker next season, we could line up:
Debuchy Koscielny Mertersacker Gibbs
Khedira Carvahlo Ramsey
Walcott Sanchez Ozil
A lot more defensive than last season, but still with plenty of attacking talent. In would certainly be an option.
Another factor could be Thomas Vermaelen.
With the captain set to leave (have we ever been so unbothered about a captain leaving?), it leaves us without a back up centre back. Now so more learned people than myself have said Carvahlo can play centre back. So lets look at it another way, Carvahlo would be coming in as 3rd choice centre back, 2nd choice defensive midfielder.
Last season Vermaelen played 14 league games and 21 in all competitions. Bacary Sagna played twice at centre back. Matuieu Flamini played an additional 25 league games, 34 in total. That is 57 games in total where we did not play our first choice defensive midfielder (Arteta) or one of our 1st choice centre backs were out injured.
57 games last year. Suddenly buying a centre back / defensive midfield hybrid becomes an interesting proposition.
Last season, between Flamini, Arteta, Vermaelen and Sagna (at right back), exactly 100 games were played. That is more than enough to go around to justify spending big on two players.
“But if we sell Vermaelen, we still have Flamini and Arteta in the squad, and what about Chambers?” I now hear you think. Well, we are moving forward, it is about improving the squad. Chambers will get enough game time as 4th choice centre back / 2nd choice right back, so do no worry about someone coming in ahead of him, it will not, to quote Wenger, “kill him”.
Flamini and Arteta
Khedira and Carvahlo
When it is put down that plainly, the decision is obvious. Khedira and Carvhalo are far superior.
But what for Arteta and Flamini?
Well Arteta has 1 year left on his contract. He has already been linked with moves away. The decision could be up to him. Stay at Arsenal, see out his contract, get little play time, and leave for a free next year, or take a move this summer. It would be his choice.
Flamini would be worth hanging on to. With 2 years on his contract (people are actually moaning we gave him a 3 year deal!), he would still have a place in the Arsenal squad, covering both defensive midfielders, as well as full backs. He would still get game time, just not as much as last season.
Either way, were we to buy Khedira and Carvahlo, one of Flamini or Arteta would have to leave, or be happy playing single figure games next season.
Of course, buying both would be expensive. In the region of £40 million. But we can afford it. We have a current net expenditure of circa £41,000,000. Taking into account Vermaelen is set to leave for £10 million, that will be reduced to £31,000,000. Adding two additional players for a total of £40,000,000 would leave us with a net spend of £71,000,000. A lot, yes, but we have the money.
This total would be reduced further if, as reported, Santi Cazorla returns to Spain, however, I believe he will stay.
What buying both might do is restrict us from buying a striker. It would leave us with not much left. Of having to wait for the right person to come available, rather than buying a ‘he will do’ type striker. But with Giroud, Sanchez, Sanogo, Walcott, Campbell & Podolski, we have plenty of options up top.
Can we afford and accommodate signing both Sami Khedira and William Carvahlo? The answer is yes.