It is now not a secret that Arsenal are in for Moises Caicedo. Whether we get a deal over the line before tomorrow evening is an unknown.
I had a blog lined up for deadline day about how we were going to go “all in” for a defensive midfielder, but that the deal would unlikely happen until the summer.
My gut tells me that Caicedo (or someone else) will not join until the summer. But if Arsenal push hard over the next 30-or-so hours, a deal for Caicedo might be done.
Over the last 6 months, I had two players at the top of my list of transfer targets – Mykhailo Mudryk and Caicedo.
I expected the pair to be our two big money signings in the summer. However us being top of the league and Chelsea’s spending spree has changed that.
Chelsea ended up beating us to Mudryk and I hope the same does not happen with Caicedo.
The case for Arsenal to sign Caicedo is an easy one to make.
One aspect of our recruitment in recent years is signing players with Premier League experience.
When the deal for Mudryk do not happen, we turned straight to Leandro Trossard. He made an instant impact against Manchester’s City and United.
Trossard had played over 100 games in the Premier League. He would take no adjusting.
Caicedo joined came to England in February 2021 as a 19-year-old. Brighton took their time with him and he was kept under wraps for the 2nd half of the 2020/21 season, not playing a game.
In the summer of 2021 he was loaned out Belgium side Beerschot for 6 months. He returned to Brighton in January 2022 and has pretty much been a first team regular since.
He has now played 26 Premier League games for Brighton – and a total of 2272 minutes. Not a huge amount of experience but his “settling in” period has happened.
Caicedo knows England, knows the Premier League, and could start Saturday against Everton if we needed him to.
Brighton a BTEC Arsenal
Brighton do not play to disimilar to Arsenal.
They play 4231 possession based game.
Caicedo and Mac Allister play as the two deepest midfielder, with the Argentinian given the freedom to push on when they have the ball turning their formation into a 4141. It is a very similar role to what Granit Xhaka plays for us.
This means Caicedo is often the last and only line of defence infront of his centre backs. Exactly the role Thomas Partey plays for us.
We have already seen how easy Trossard has fitted into Mikel Arteta’s system, and I would be confident that Caicedo will do the same.
My big concern about Declan Rice was his agen and experience. The Englishman would not really be someone who could come in to play a squad role.
Caicedo, at 21, always felt the better fit.
We would be under no pressure to have him playing week in, week out. He would continue his development whilst learning from the best defensive midfielder in the world – Thomas Partey.
As the next 18 to 30 months roll by, we would see a slow transition from Partey to Caicedo..
Come 2025, Partey will be 32 and his current contract will be coming to an end. Caicedo will be just 23 and ready to be our key man week in, week out.
The option would still then be there to retain Partey as 2nd choice. simialr to Fernandinho playing 2nd fiddle to Rodri in his later years.
Signing Caciedo would be fantastic succession planning.
A solid passer
As the man to pick up the ball off the defence and launch our attacks, our defensive midfielder needs to be a very good passer.
We could not have a Gilberto Silva, Claude Makelele or N’Golo Kante in that role. Whilst they are brilliant defensively, they would be too slow on the ball.
Caicedo can improve his passing, but it is certainly not poor.
In the Premier League this season, he has a 88.2% pass accuracy. That is better than Partey’s 86.6%.
Caicedo averages around 60 passes a game, Partey 65. Where Partey is ahead is in long ball accuracy. The Ghanaian has that clipped ball over the top from deep in his armoury. I am not sure Caicedo has that yet.
If Caicedo came in for Partey, we would certainly not see our build up play slow down.
And a fantastic defender
Caicedo’s defensive statistics also match up to Partey’s.
They mirror each other in tackles and interceptions. Caicedo averaging a little more per game due to Brighton having less posession than us.
What the stats show is that Caicedo can read the game well.
Like Partey, he tends not to dive around tackling all over the place. It is all about being positionally solid and making interceptions.
Albert Sambi Lokonga is a liability defensively right now. Caicedo would be a huge upgrade.
His only real downside is that he can be a little rash defensively.
He has committed the 2nd most fouls in the league this season – 36. Partey has conceded just 17. He also has 5 yellow cards to his name against Partey’s 2.
This season, Partey has picked up one yellow card every 697 minutes. Caicedo is booked every 321 minutes. At the current rate, Caicedo will finish the season with 11 yellow card. Partey 5.
Partey has also only received two red cards in his career. It shows a player that is very disciplined. Caicedo will need to work on this to avoid discipline hurting his team.
If we sign Caicedo prior to tomorrows deadline, I will be a very happy boy! But even if we do not, it will not be a disaster for us. And we will just go again for him (or Rice) in the summer.
I always laugh when I think back to people saying they “do not get Edu’s transfer strategy” a few years back when we signed Ben White and Aaron Ramsdale. It was clear than what our strategy was, and even clearer now.
Caicedo will be a brilliant signing for Arsenal’s present, and an even better one for Arsenal’s future.