Mirroring the debate had at centre back, some people are questioning why we are targeting Pedro Neto when we “already have Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka”.
It sometimes feels at Arsenal, we are the only team that are not allowed to have squad depth.
With 50+ games to play this season, we need a deep squad to allow Mikel Arteta to rest and rotate without seeing a drop off in qua;lity.
Last season we had a starting XI that was a match for anyone. But we did not have the strength in depth.
This led Arteta to over playing the likes of Bukayo Saka, and we paid for it in the run in as players looked exhausted and lost form.
With Nicolas Pepe now gone, it leaves us with just Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith Rowe as wide options.
At this point some might say “and Gabriel Jesus” – but we need to remember he is our main striker. And with a high energy game, he will need to be rested and rotated for Eddie Nketiah.
We need to be in a position where Eddie can come in for Jesus to rest the Brazilian, not because he is required to fill in out wide.
Likewise, Fabio Vieira can play out wide. But he is also the cover and competition for Martin Odergaard and an option to replace Granit Xhaka if we want to go more attacking. He should only be an option on the wings in an emergancy.
And the chances of that emergancy will decrease if we sign one more winger: Pedro Neto (or another winger).
Neto ticks a lot of the boxes:
- Premier League proven
- 25 or under
- High work rate
- Can play on both wings
Whilst I would not pay £50million for him, if we do have that sort of funds available and it can get the deal done, we should consider it – especially when you compare to Morgan Gibbs-White going for £45million and Anthony Gordon being linked with a £60million+ move.
Neto is better than both of these.
If we signed Neto, our wide options would then be Saka, Martinelli, Neto and Smith Rowe.
And this is why the transfer fee would not bother me.
I would not look at it as “Neto for £50million” but more “Neto, Saka, Martinelli, Smith Rowe, Jesus and Nketiah for less than £100million”.
That would be a fantastic array of attacking hungry attacking talent.
Bar potentially having to recruit better cover for Jesus (if Nketiah doesn’t cut the mustard – although then Balogun might get the chance), we would not have to look at our attack line for 3 or 4 seasons at least.
We would have more than enough games to keep Neto, Saka and Martinelli happy. Whilst Smith Rowe will still see plenty of game time as he provides us with another option inside.
Neto also further strengthens the striking options. It would give us the alternative of playing Martinelli through the middle with Neto playing outwide.
Some might question Neto’s output – 9 Premier League goals in 76 games.
But we must remember these are statistics of a young player – Neto came to the Premier League as a 19-year-old, playing for an ultra defensive team and suffered a bad injury.
In his first two seasons with Wolves – prior to his injury – he had scored 3 and 5 goals. Cristiano Ronaldo in his first two seasons scored 3 and 4.
Now I am not saying he is as good as Ronaldo. But more than we should ignore a young players early statistics in a new league.
Ronaldo turned 22 and went from boy to man. Going from scoring 9 goals in his 3rd season to 17 in his 4th and 31 in his 5th.
We basically need to be scoring 90+ goals a season to compete for the title. The way I see the breakdown is:
Nketiah – 10
Saka – 10-15
Martinelli – 10-15
Neto – 8-10
Smith Rowe – 5-8
Odergaard – 5-8
That would give us between 68 and 91 goals (it will probably be somewhere in the middle as you would not expect every player to hit their “max” – and if they do we are champions).
The rest of the goals are then made up from your other players and own goals.
So we would not need Neto to come in and hit 10-15 goals from day one. Just 8-10.
And if he does hit 10-15 goals, it probably means he has forced his way into the team ahead of Martinelli or Saka and as a result their goals will drop (down to 8-10).
Now some will say we should go for Wilfried Zaha rather than Neto as a proven goal scorer from out wide. It is a new from me.
It would be crazy getting rid of Pepe and signing Zaha – who is basically a Pepe clone.
Zaha, like Pepe, relies on space in behind. His team playing counter-attacking football. We do not play that and usually come up against side that play a low block.
The same problems Pepe faced, Zaha will also have. And like Pepe, his passing is not good enough meaning he can not move the ball quickly and efficiently to create gaps in the opponents defence (Zaha usually averaged less than 80% pass completion whilst Neto is just shy of 90%).
Add in that Zaha turns 30 in November, it woukld be crazy to bring in an ageing, short term option on high money considering we have just spent 2 years getting rid of the sort of player.
When it comes to Neto, 3 into 2 does go.
(And if we can not get the Neto deal to work, we have alternative options in Mykhaylo Mudryk and Yerimi Pino).
Enjoy the game today. Lets make it 4 wins from 4.
Up the Arsenal.