Tag Archives: Julian Draxler

Arsenal Targets: 10 Wingers

Everyone agrees that we need a goal keeper, centre back and defensive midfielder next year. But we also need a winger.

Since letting Theo Walcott leave in January, we do not have a natural wide man. Whilst Danny Welbeck can do a job there, we require a speedy wideman who is happy getting chalk on his boots.

Against Atletico Madrid in the first leg, we struggled to change game plan. Over the two legs, we bought on 1 substitution. I expect next season we will play fairly narrow, with Mesut Ozil and Henrik Mkhitaryan playing in behind a single striker.

This means that we need an option on the bench to change things up, take things wider.

Strikers Welbeck, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can play out wide, but it is not their natural game and they will only drift back inside. Likewise with Ozil and Mkhitaryan (alongside Alex Iwobi), both would start out wide but end up inside.

This would result in us making a change to go wider, but not having the players who will stay on the touchline. In turn they drop back inside and the in-game tactical change has not occurred.

Manchester City have Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane who provide excellent foils to Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva and Bernado Silva. Liverpool are also capable of changing things up, even it is using the same personnel.

When they wish to go for width, a simple change of Mo Salah on the left and Sadio Mane on the right completely changes the complexion of the team.

What Arsenal need is a young, intelligent winger. Someone whose natural inclination is to play out wide, but they also versatile enough to play across the front line positions. Someone with natural pace, but technique to match.

So what options are there?

Leon Bailey (Bayer Leverkusen)

The 20-year-old Jamaican has been in sparkling form for the majority of the Bundesliga season and has scored some spectacular goals to help Leverkusen to fourth place and Champions League contention. He ticks every box for Arsenal.

Justin Kluivert (Ajax)

The 19-year-old son of former Holland and Newcastle striker Patrick, young Kluivert is making a name for himself as a winger of note. Already valued in the £40m bracket, the Dutch youngster is perhaps overpriced and Ajax have recently been looking to extend his contract.

A new deal with Ajax would see a huge sell on percentage for both the play and super agent Mino Raiola. This would see him stay in Holland for a couple more years before he is moved on. Arsenal have recently dealt with Raiola in the signing of Henrik Mkhytarian.

Ousmane Dembélé (Barcelona)

The French teenager became the world’s second most expensive player, when he moved to the Camp Nou in a €105m deal, to replace Neymar last summer. However, he suffered a hamstring injury in September, which ruled him out for four months.

He returned in January, but got injured again.

Barcelona are expected to strengthen their forward line with the signing of Atletico Madrid forward, Antoine Griezmann this summer, which could lead to them attempt ro recoup some of their huge outlay on Dembele.

Gelson Martins (Sporting Lisbon)

The 22-year-old is super fast and has been tipped for the top by coach Jorge Jesus. Tottenham, Chelsea and Liverpool have watched the Portugal international extensively and he is a classic-style winger who beats his man and gets the cross over. Arsenal may demand he learns a bit more but certainly has the raw talent and has scored 10 goals.

Malcolm (Bordeaux)

Arsenal were favourites to sign Malcolm in January, but they delayed the deal after the dual signing of Henrik Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang arose.

With Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund now interested in him, Arsenal now face more competition for the Brazilian youngster than they did earlier in the year.

Malcolm himself has come out and said he expects to leave Bordeaux, come the summer. The 21-year-old is a quality winger capable of playing on both wings, and also has the technique to move into the middle when required.

the Gunners are  suddenly set to miss out on a real talent.

Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund)

Has two years left on contract and is regarded as one of the most talented teenagers in the world. The USA international can play on the wing or as a playmaker. He joined Dortmund during the time recruitment was overseen by Arsenal’s Sven Mislintat.

Anthony Martial (Manchester United)

Still just 22, it is incredible to think that Manchester United shocked the footballing world by signing the then teenager for £36 million. What seemed like a crazy price in 2015 would now be considered a good deal.

He has fallen out of favour at under Jose Mourinho and could be looking for a way out this summer. Only questions are around whether he would want to move from Manchester United’s bench to Arsenal’s, and whether he is exactly what we need.

He is not a winger who gets chalk on his boots, more a frustrated forward playing out wide.

Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City)

At 27, the Algerian is perhaps not as young as others on this list, but he his Premier League experience and versatility trumps that.

A £50m move to Manchester City fell through in January. He has 2 years remaining on a 4 year deal that he signed back in 2016, and Leicester City might decide this is the last summer that they can get a decent transfer fee for him.

Whilst we should go no where near the £50m that City had agree, if we can get him for closer to £30m a deal should be done.

And a blog about wingers would not be completed without mentioning the names Julian Draxler and Thomas Lemar.

Keenos

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Mkhitaryan for Sanchez straight swap a “good deal”?

But we could have got £60million for him in the summer is a common complaint upon hearing that we are about to swap Alexis Sanchez for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, with no cash exchanging hands.

A lot of people are looking at it as we are then getting no money for Sanchez, and therefore it is a bad deal as we could have got £60m in the summer.

Whilst they are not getting any money for Sanchez, what they are getting is a player that Manchester United were happy spending £37.8m on 18 months ago.

When you consider Alexis Sanchez is available on a free in just 5 months, the fact Arsenal are getting a £40m player in a straight swap is as good as Arsenal getting £40m for him.

But we could have got £60m for him in the summer, you still cry. And you are correct.

But had we sold Sanchez in the summer, we would have had to have bought a replacement. And every club in Europe would have known that:

  1. We had £60m to burn
  2. That we were desperate

All of that £60m, and maybe more, would have been invested in his replacement.

So in reality, Arsenal would not have been getting £60m for Sanchez, but swapping Sanchez for whoever his replacement is.

On deadline day, for example, Arsenal bid £90m for Thomas Lemar.

Would spending £30 and swapping Lemar for Sanchez be a good deal? No.

Another player is Julian Draxler. I imagine had we pushed for him, we would have been able to get him for similar to what we sold Sanchez for. So the £60m we got in for Sanchez would have been given straight to PSG for Draxler.

Julian Draxler is a very good player, but is he worth £60m? Would that price have been inflated due to the Sanchez cash? Possibly.

And then compare to the two players mentioned above to Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Are they actually any better?

Mkhitaryan has had a tough 18 months in England, but he would not be the first free-spirited attacking talent to struggle under Jose Mourinho.

For me, he is on a similar level to Julian Draxler. Actually I would say he is better than Draxler as people still talk about the German as having potential, whilst Mkhitaryan is proven.

Then compare Mkhitaryan to Lemar.

One is a player who has had one good season, and struggled this, the other was quality in Germany over a number of years.

So Lemar would have cost us an additional £30m on top of what we got in for Sanchez, and he is not as good as the player we ended up getting.

Had we sold Alexis Sanchez to Manchester City for £40m and then bought Mkhitaryan from Manchester United for £40m, you would probably all be happy.

Now lets chuck Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang into the mix- a deal for £53m is moving closer.

We could end up with a situation where we get both Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan in, with Sanchez leaving, and a net spend of just £53m.

Let’s go back to the alternative deal in the summer of Lemar in, Sanchez out, and a net spend of £30m.

So for an additional £23m on top of what we were willing to spend in the summer, we are getting a Sanchez replacement and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Is the deal a good deal for Arsenal? Yes.

Ps: in their last season together at Dormund, the pair scored62 goals between them.

Keenos

Formation more important than spending big for Arsenal

I have read a lot over recent days that Arsenal need to buy this player, or that player. But a bigger problem that needs to be sorted out within the side before we sign anyone is what formation we set out to play.

There is no point going out and spending millions of pounds on players, if we do not play a system that utilising them best.

For about a year, we have played 3 at the back.

Moving forward through the pitch, we have then played a narrow 2 (or 2 Number 10s) behind a single striker. The theory being that this would then get the best out of Alexis Sanchez.

However, in recent games we have returned to 4 at the back. This then affects what happens further up the field, as it results in us playing with two wider forwards, with a single Number 10.

Until Arsene Wenger decides on which formation we play, there really is no point us signing someone.

Formation more important than spending big for Arsenal

Take Thomas Lemar, for example.

He was brilliant for Monaco playing wide left. But Arsenal do not currently play with wide men, so what is the point of spending £90million on him, if we do not play the formation to accommodate him.

The same go’s for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. He has been heavily linked with Arsenal this week, but he is a centre forward and just 6 months ago, we spent nearly £50m on Alexandre Lacazette.

What is the point then paying a similar amount for another striker, when we only play one up front?

Or Anthony Martial, who we have been linked in a swap deal for Alexis Sanchez.

His best performances for Manchester United have been playing wide. He is not a Number 10. Therefore swapping Sanchez for Martial and keeping with 3 at the back and two behind Lacazette would not get the best from him.

Another Manchester United star we have been linked with his Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Mkhitaryan is a talented Number 10, and could work alongside Mesut Ozil. But what if Wenger decides to drop the 3 at the back? Mkhitaryan is then forced to play out wide – where he has struggled for Manchester United.

We are likely to sell Theo Walcott in this transfer window as he does not suit the current system. It is easy to forget he scored 19 goals last season on the right hand side of a front 3.

Coming in could be Bordeaux star Malcolm. A right winger. It would be odd to let go of Walcott because he can not play in the current system, to then sign Malcolm, who is also a right sided midfielder.

An option could be to go for the likes of Leon Goretzka or Julian Draxler, who both have the ability to play both at Number 10 and out wide – meaning that they are interchangeable when it comes formation changes. But both seem to have got off the Arsenal Speculation Train in recent weeks.

We need to buy players. That is clear. The first XI is not good enough, neither is the squad.

But there is no point buying players until Wenger makes it certain what formation he wants to play. And we all know the dithering Frenchman will probably not make that decision until April.

There is no point spending big money on players, then not playing that system that gets the best out of them.

Keenos