When I see discussions as to what midfielder we should buy, a key part of the discussion is often missed.
Arsenal potentially need 2 central midfielder, not 1.
The discussion always surrounds “who should replace Granit Xhaka” but very few talk about Mohamed Elneny leaving us this summer.
The Egyptians contract expires in June; and whilst he has played just 10 games this season, he does need to be replaced.
Our lack of European football this season (and the early exit in the FA Cup) has meant me have not needed to rest and rotate as much as previous seasons – Elneny played 41 times for us in 2020/21 (when we were in Europe).
Edu has done a fantastic job in the last 12 months stripping the squad of those players Mikel Arteta did not want. But with European (and potentially Champions League) football back on the agenda for next season, we need to return to having 2 players for every position.
In midfield, this means we need 4 options.
Elneny leaving results in us having 3 central midfielders – Xhaka, Thomas Partey and Albert Sambi Lokonga. If Xhaka also departs, it leaves us two short.
Some might point to Miguel Azeez and Charlie Patino as options, but realistically they are not ready.
Azeez was OK on loan at Portsmouth in League One prior to Arsenal recalling him. Next season he will reijoin the first team squad on a permanent basis, but should only be considered as 5th in the pecking order.
Patino is clearly a talent, but he was promoted to early when we face Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup. He is still just 18 and is not ready – either physically or mentally – for senior football.
What would make a lot of sense is for Patino to be training week in, week out with our senior boys in the first half of the season; whilst also starting in the League Cup.
A loan deal in the second half of the season would give him the first team football he needs to continue his development.
We also have Ainsley Maitland-Niles returning from Italy. But I think it is time we said goodbye to him permanently in the summer.
The club have turned down a few good offers from Leicester City and Wolves over the last couple of seasons. He turns 25-years-old in August and his value is now plummeting.
He will never make it in the Arsenal first team so we now need to cash in and move on.
The recent quotes from Xhaka indicate that it might not be a forgone conclusion that he departs. If he does not, it will be just one central midfielder added to the squad. But if he is off we need the two.
Xhaka is a defensively minded midfielder, so if he stays we need someone more attacking. Someone like Youri Tielemans who can play central midfield, but also play further forward to provide cover and competition for Martin Odergaard.
If Xhaka departs, we then need to replace him with a like-for-like.
Ruben Neves is the obvious choice, but will be expensive.
If Xhaka does leave, it will be for fairly cheap, so signing an expensive replacement will not make financial sense.
Napoli’s Fabian Ruiz is apparently available for just £16million. He would replicate everything positive that Xhaka brings to a football pitch.
Ruiz as a defensive option, Tielemans as an attacking.
Squad depth is what is needed next year whilst we fight on 4 fronts.
Adding Ruiz and Tielemands at the expense of Xhaka and Elneny will be a huge upgrade.
Be happy to see Xhaka stay at the club, think he`s criminally underrated but if he leaves then I`d like to see Neves at The Arsenal. Always catches the eye against us and I thought he was the standout player over our 2 games with them recently. Partey is finally starting to exert some influence over the side and has looked top notch since December, think him and Neves would compliment each other well. Haven`t seen much of Ruiz so can`t really comment but Tielemans would be a statement signing, that would give us so many options in the middle of the park and we`d be letting everyone know that we`re serious about challenging on all fronts.
Totally agree with you about Maitland-Niles and Patino. Maitland-Niles is never going to make the grade at The Arse, we should have bit Wolves hands off when they came in for him a couple of years ago. Patino looks like a player but as you say, nowhere near ready (physically & mentally) to be playing in the first team.
The other big area where we need to improve and add competition is up top, hopefully Lacazette signs a 12 month extension but we badly need to find a physical presence up front who`ll guarantee us 20 goals a season. Hard to find and even fucking harder to sign a player like that though but if we want to get to the next level that`s what we`ve got to do.
If Laca could even come close to replicating his PL form from his last 10 PL apps over the course of a whole season? He’d end up with approx 8G/30A. If Laca could produce 70% of that over a season– he’d set the PL record for assists. Give the team 20+ goal contributions of any combo– why would we not want to keep Lacazette in the team for another year? Even if just for insurance?
Agreed. I like Lacazette and think he`s having a great season. I hope he`ll sign a 12 month contract extension, I`d even be tempted to offer him a 2 year deal if it meant getting him to sign up. Always believed he was a better all round player than Aubameyang and he has a stronger mentality as well. That being said, if we`re going to get to the next level we need a player who offers you everything that Lacazette does but who`ll consistently score you 20 league goals a season. The way Arteta sets his team up, I just don`t think Lacazette is that man but he`d be a great player to call upon when you need to freshen things up and his influence on the young kids is clear to see.
If Neves is Arteta&Edu’s guy– the money to sign him is secondary. A la Ben White. Nearly positive KSE is in that mindset too. Don’t fook around. Make the deal early in Summer.
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