As many Arsenal fans continue emphasise the below par performances of Mikel Arteta over the past few months, I thought I’d analyse some of the players that could replace him as a defensive midfielder.
It was a blessing in disguise when he signed for Arsenal back in 2011 having enjoyed playing such a critical role in that season, he has been slightly rocky this season and his boat is slowly sinking at Arsenal.
5. Ilkay Gündôgan
The German prodigy has had a prolonged period on the sidelines this season but has sure caught the eye of Europe’s elite clubs.
Following a successful campaign with Borussia Dortmund in 2012/13 season en route to the Champions League final, the German has been eyed up as a suitable replacement for Arteta by Arsenal.
With three first-team Germans at Arsenal already, it many cushion the settling in period. He is your perfect box to box midfield player, he can pass, shoot, run and pulls the strings in midfield. Strengthening is one thing but adequately is another, Gündôgan is a player who controls the game and dictates the tempo from the back, who looks to move things forward quickly which is something Arteta lacks. He is slow on the ball, has no pace or willingness to get the ball back and lacks desire. Ilkay Gündôgan would cost around £20m and would give everything Arteta lacks.
Is this possibly the best replacement?
The Napoli midfield man has caught the eye since his €8m move from Hellas Verona. Jorginho took a while to get use to the surroundings in Italy as he spent a season in loan at Sambonifacese in Serie C before returning to Verona.
It is rumoured that Arsenal have already held talks over a possible move to the Emirates. Jorginho is a player of many qualities; he can hold the ball well and protect the defence from being a victim of a counter-attack. The best of his attributes include his passing which is exquisite. He tends to pull the strings and make things happen from deep. His penalties are also immaculate and his dribbling is superb too.
He is one of your typical Brazilians whose dribbling is incredibly neat and tidy. Jorginho is a player that Arsenal have already earmarked as a replacement for Arteta and being such a young and fresh talent, could he be the most significant replacement?
3. Paul Pogba
The French anchorman has been subject of comparisons to former Arsenal midfielder and World Cup winner Patrick Vieira following a successful season with Juventus in Serie A.
The 21 year-old Frenchman joined Juventus from Manchester United in 2012 after a dismal spell at the Red Devils. He has been heavily linked with boyhood club and French Champions Paris Saint-Germain after it was rumoured that the Qatari owners wanted to buy a possible future French captain and a €60m fee is considered to be on the table.
Slowly, I’m sure somewhere Sir Alex Ferguson is feeling the pain of regret for selling the big midfield man to the Italian side. The best of his attributes include his vision, passing and shooting, which he has expressed during his season at the ‘vecchia signora’ scoring eight times and contributing to eight more goals in 44 appearances. Pogba has cemented his place in the team playing in a defensive midfield role just behind Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal.
His exceptional midfield play allows Vidal and Pirlo to patrol just in behind the attack and Pogba is definitely employed as an anchor, giving him a lot more space to protect the defence.
Pogba is a very special talent and will become one of the best midfielders in the world in my opinion. But could the big price tag thwart Arsenal’s chances of signing the bulky Frenchman?
2. Lars Bender
Lars Bender has proved to be a top defensive midfield player this season and could be a top shout in Germany’s World Cup squad as well as a feasible and adequately appropriate acquisition than his brother Sven.
Probably the most predominant Bayer Leverkusen player, Bender is a typically exceptional box-to-box midfielder the German but has only scored twice in his 25 Bundesliga games this season. Bender has an average passing accuracy of 77% and an average passing range of 18m as well as the second highest tackle rate in the Champions League.
Arsène Wenger has kept faith with Arteta, although Lars Bender has been on the Frenchman’s radar for a long time now, and a €19m bid for him was rejected by the German side last summer.
Why should Arsenal sign him? Arsenal have a strong midfield but they lack an enforcer who can keep opposing players at bay when being subject to a counter-attack, it will be an easier attraction with Champions League football and three fellow Germans already at the Emirates. Finding a player capably adequate to fill this void will be a factor of technical research. Would signing him be a perfect ‘Arsenal’ player?
1. Morgan Schneiderlin
The Southampton midfielder has solidified his place in the Saints’ squad and has represented France at under-21 level. Schneiderlin, who joined Southampton from French side Strasbourg in the summer of 2008 for a fee of £1.2m, has made over 190 appearances for the South Coast club and been a critical part of their team this year.
Playing in the pivot role to protect the defence, Schneiderlin has averaged a passing accuracy of 89% – more than any other Southampton player. He’s made 31 appearances this season, scoring twice as well as making 29 chances for his team-mates.
Arsenal have been scouting him for some time now and speculation is growing that Wenger could be ready to lodge a bid for his compatriot. Schneiderlin has previously told media that he’d love a move to a big club and is valued at £15m by Southampton.
Agreeing a deal would be tricky as Southampton are known to be tough negotiators. Why should Arsenal sign him? I’ve said before, Arsenal have a strong midfield but they lack a desired but calm body to steady and balance things out.
Having already told French press that he’d relish a switch to a bigger outfit, and with Arteta slowly becoming a lot slower, Schneiderlin would fill his void perfectly. With him being not as highly-rated as some of the above, could the Gunners snap him up for a bargain?
Occasional writer who follows the Arsenal home and away. Dennis is our greatest ever.