Having closely monitored Granit Xhaka’s performances in his three appearances for Switzerland during their Euro 2016 campaign to date, I was surprised to hear the recently appointed Hibernian manager, Neil Lennon’s assessment of our recent addition.
In Neil’s assessment, he stated that he hasn’t been overly impressed by what he has seen so far and made comparisons between Xhaka and Stoke City midfielder Charlie Adam. Although it wasn’t the Charlie Adam comparison that surprised me, more that he hasn’t been impressed.
From what I have seen of Granit, he is very composed when in possession and it is his passing range that is similar to that of Adam. Both players like to play long, diagonal left footed passes and more often than not, the passes are weighted to perfection.
It is there that the similarities end and Xhaka is far more elegant on the ball. He reads the game well and has good positional sense. I am also an admirer of his aggressive tackling style, even if he runs the risk of receiving an early dismissal at times. A prime example of this was a two footed challenge just minutes into Switzerland’s opening Euro 2016 fixture with Albania. Yes with Xhaka we have hit the jackpot at the no deposit bonus casino why gamble on who to play with him?
Another player who has impressed me with his performances so far during Euro 2016 is N’Golo Kante. If the reports of him having a £20m buyout clause in his Leicester City contract are correct, Wenger should be looking to bring him in. I have taken the signing of Xhaka into consideration and my opinion remains the same. A defensive midfielder is not a priority but when a good player becomes available for significantly less than what he’s worth, it would be foolish to not at least attempt to get a deal done.
I would be happy to play both Xhaka and Kante at the same time. The Kante and Drinkwater partnership didn’t work out too badly for Leicester last season and Xhaka is a class above the latter. I am not suggesting that either Kante or Xhaka are in the same class as Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit but as a pair they could become our modern day equivalent, in terms of the qualities they would give us in the middle of the park. Interestingly thoigh Manu himslef had been raving about Kante
Some supporters will undoubtedly question why I am suggesting that we make a move for another defensive midfielder when we now have an apparent abundance of them at our disposal. My answer is simple; Kante is a better player than both Francis Coquelin and Mohamed Elneny. His tackling is better than Elneny’s and as good as, if not better than Coquelin’s. Whilst Kante’s distribution is superior to Coquelin’s and at least on par with Elneny’s. There can be no sentiment in football and if signing Kante upset either of those two, then so be it.
The announcement regarding Jamie Vardy’s decision to stay at Leicester caused a typical meltdown amongst Arsenal supporters on social media. With some suggesting that the snub proved that we are no longer a big club under Wenger’s management. Despite my views about Arsene, I disagree.
As I mentioned in my precious article, I do have to question why Vardy appears to have been our first choice striking target and not the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for example. However, regardless of your thoughts on Wenger, there is no way that a move to Arsenal would have represented anything other than a step up in financial terms or in club stature.
It is evident that Vardy is not motivated by money because he would have earned more by moving clubs. I’d like to say he’s not motivated by ambition either but it is difficult to say this is the case when his current club has recently landed the league title which has eluded us since 2004. I honestly believe his decision to stay, says more about him as a person than it does about us and where we are as a club.
I am sure we have all known colleagues or friends who have remained in their jobs out of sentiment or because they are reluctant to leave their comfort zones. I can even think of examples of some who have been offered significant pay rises elsewhere, for jobs that offer better future job prospects but decided stay where they were. It happens and it is no different in the footballing world.
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Signing for Arsenal is a far more attractive proposition now than it was back in 2013 when we enticed Mesut Ozil to the club. At that point we hadn’t won anything for eight years and had failed to finish higher than third in the table. The new TV revenue also ensures that we are now able to pay higher wages than at any point in our history. We are also the biggest club in London, a desirable city for players and their families.
Add in the fact that we have Ozil and Alexis Sanchez in our ranks and I simply don’t buy into the belief that we aren’t an attractive option to potential new signings. The recent addition of Xhaka is evidence of that and whilst some will argue that the long term future of Ozil and Sanchez hinges on who is brought in to join them, at this point we have them and many top players would love to play alongside them.
My concerns don’t lie with Vardy rejecting us, he’s quick but I don’t think he’s got quick feet and I was never overly convinced that he would be able to adapt to having to play in a different way. What concerns me more, is Wenger’s history of putting all his eggs in one basket and not having any alternatives lined up and where is the centre back?
We should be aiming for the best and in my view Vardy isn’t. There is still time but we’ve been here many times before, he will, he has to, he doesn’t….