Transfer rumours are rife and the Emery era is in full swing. The Press, as we all know, do not necessarily know more than the well-connected fan, but I suspect there is some truth in some of the players we are being linked to at present.
Overall, I feel very bullish about the new era, although reading that our new Head Coach and Head of Scouting differ on targets continuously is slightly concerning. Particularly when our ill-informed media suggest Emery wants Stephen N’Zonzi, whilst Mislintat favours Abdoulaye Dacoure. Both are indeed French and both central midfielders for sure but they are certainly not alternatives for the same role in the team. The former is an out and out purpose built defensive back four shield and the latter a box to box player, with the same goal return in the Premier League as Ramsey. That said, our own Box to Boxer score his seven in far less games.
One has to assume, in the midfield area, the club’s priorities will be determined, as I wrote recently by Ramsey’s decision on his new contract. Should our Welsh midfield dynamo extend, as I think he will, the purchase of N’Zonzi from Sevilla makes more rational sense. Without being disparaging of Xhaka in any way, as it is about players for systems. I have always felt to see the best of Ramsey; the logical partner is a specialist defensive midfielder. If Emery aims to use his preferred 4231 and N’Zonzi or equivalent and Ramsey pivot seems idea to form a solid core – a modern day Petit/Vieira or Gilberto/Vieira if you will. (I am comparing the type of partnership here not the player ability.)
If Ramsey opts to seek his fortune away from the Emirates, then Dacoure is a potential target. That said he is 25 and last season was the only season in his career to date where he has stood out and added goals. Therefore, I am certain there are more viable and established Ramsey alternatives out there but I hope we do not need to cross that bridge.
I have read some speculation about what the addition Nzonzi might mean for Maitland-Niles and Elneny and if I were the Egyptian, I would share the concern. The young Englishman could watch. learn from and understudy an Nzonzi, or an Nzonzi style signing and has age on his side. Elneny at 25 may or may not be so keen to continue as an understudy, and signed his new deal in the old era. Our affable Egyptian will be aiming to impress his new coach with his displays in Russia.
Much to muse on and debate of course but one further aspect to keep an eye on is the average first team squad age and more particularly the average age of our potential starting 11. Last season we had the ninth eldest squad in the Premier League, with all the teams finishing above us, barring Chelsea, having younger groups. Adding the likes of Sokratis and Nzonzi may give us short-term experience in key areas but Emery and the Arsenal scouting team should have an eye on the next generation. One hopes that with Mistinlat at the helm, this should not be an issue but a quick look at a potential first 11 for August might raise and eye brow!
Last year the highest average squad age in the Premier League was WBA, a team that got relegated. That average squad age was just over 29 and the team above, as a first choice 11 has an average age of 28.81. I am not being alarmist as swapping Cech for Leno, Monreal for Kolasinac and even Lacazette for Dembele would change things dramatically. So at this stage just something to watch but Sokratis and Lichtsteiner are certainly ‘mature’ additions so we can hope the remainder of the summer will see the counter balanced, as I am convinced their are far more ins and indeed outs to be revealed between now and July.
Enough ramblings for today…. Roll on Russia and come in The Three Lions!!