Following a very good performance from Brighton on Saturday against Watford, Arsenal Twitter had one thing on its mind.
For a while during early summer, Bissouma was one of our top targets and a deal looked close. But then everything went silent.
The possibility of a transfer probably died when we signed Ben White – it is always unlikely for one side to make two major signings from another side.
Having sold White for £50million, Brighton would be in no financial rush to sell Bissouma; especially to the same opponents.
But still Arsenal fans cry out for him; and I can understand why.
Bissouma is a very good midfielder. Covers a lot of ground. Reads the game well and at 24 is the right profile of player. But Arsenal should not go for him.
Football is all about balance.
Patrick Vieira would not have reached the heights he did without an Emmanuel Petit, Gilberto Silva or Didier Deschamps sitting in behind, mopping up.
Bissouma strength is getting around the field of play and pressing, but Arsenal already have someone like this in Thomas Partey.
Arsenal’s issue they tried to solve this summer was finding someone to partner Partey – a Granit Xhaka replacement.
Xhaka’s strengths are positional discipline and passing. It was why Manuel Locatelli was our primary replacement.
Xhaka’s strengths are Bissouma’s weakness.
Bissouma is not positionally disciplined and his passing is average.
Playing Bissouma and Partey together would not have the right balance; it would be two players who are too similar. It just would not work.
“But Bissouma could be competition for Partey”.
We have already signed that competition in Albert Sambo Lokonga.
Lokonga is one of the brightest midfield talents in Europe and heir-apparent to Partey in our midfield.
It would just make zero sense to spend big money on Bissouma when we have already invested in Lokonga who could potentially reach levels above the Brighton midfielder.
So in Bissouma’s position in midfield, we already have two players – Partey and Lokonga – who look to press, bully and drive forward with the ball.
The only way it would work is if Arsenal went to 433 and had a midfield of Bissouma Xhaka Partey.
This would actually be a strong midfield, although a bit too defensive for my liking. It would also mean only 3 of Pierre-Enrico Aubameyang, Alex Lacazette, Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka, Nicolas Pepe, Emile Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli could start.
Our team lacks creativity at the moment so reducing the amount of attacking players on the field would have made matters worse.
We have also just invested heavy in Odegaard, a 10. But in 433 you would play without a 10.
Had we gone for Bissouma ahead of Odegaard, it would have shown a tactic switch to 433. We would not have needed Odegaard.
As it is, we signed the Norwegian and will stick to 4231.
Finally you have the issue of the African Cup of Nations.
Bissouma plays for Mali – although has not had a cap for 3 years (no idea why). Partey is Ghanaian and Mohamed Elneny Egyptian.
It would feel irresponsible to sign Bissouma as cover and competition for Partey; only to lose both for 6-8 weeks of the season in January and February 2022.
In summary, Bissouma is a really good player; but just not the player we need right now.
With Xhaka MIA in recent games and not showing any of the skills or traits you believe he has Bissouma is exactly what we need. Your argument is like saying N’golo Kante wouldn’t improve any team he was in. having watched Bissouma he’s positional sense, ability to break up play and willingness to adapt his game depending on how the opposition are set up is light years ahead of Xhaka who is slow in the turn, struggles to make a forward pass and doesn’t inspire.
Spies, wolves in sheep’s clothing…u name it.
Great read. 👍
Well argued article. And as a Brighton supporter, I couldn’t agree more!
Excellent point about the African Cup of Nations. A tournament which seems to have become more frequent, offering less reason to sign more African players rather than more. Ditto the South American nations event with Latin American players.
I am sure if lokonga is the one in Brighton while arsenal have bissouma, fans will be calling for arsenal to sign lokonga. He knows how to play ball. Let us give him time and watch him with Partey.
I still also believe DM is not Arsenal’s problem rather offensive play and goal creation and scoring. Our players are not shooting when in position. For many years Wenger go have luxury of DM we have now but his attacking play is years better. The same problem arteta highlighted at the end of the season is what he hasn’t addressed, what an irony. Hope Aouar or any other AM is added to replace outgoing William.
**Wenger don’t have