As we are heading into a decisive and exciting new chapter at Arsenal Football Club it’s no surprise that the upcoming transfer window is an indicator for what the potential new manager has in mind and what the future structure of the club will look like. With Sven Mislintat approaching his first summer transfer window at the club it’s not a surprise that a lot of our potential transfer targets are based in the German Bundesliga. Let’s take a closer look at what players we are currently linked to and how the current squad could benefit from a potential signing.
The name most quoted in the papers at the moment is the one of Sokratis Papastathopoulos or just Sokratis. The Greek defender currently with Borussia Dortmund has made it very clear that he wants to part ways with the German club. At 29 the Greek has one last shot at playing in one of the “big” leagues in Europe with the Premier League clearly the number one target. Talks about a new contract at Dortmund have long since broken down and German paper Sportbild already reported that Sokratis will be Arsenal’s first summer signing.
Sokratis clearly isn’t the young but experienced central defender we all have in mind when thinking about the needed fix in our back four. He seems to be more of a short term fix to our injury hit defense with the hope of young players like Mavropanos, Holding or Chambers making their breakthrough in the seasons to come. With KOS out for a few months and a questionable fitness level, we need an experienced defender, which Sokratis clearly is.
His strength and probably also his greatest weakness is his aggressive play. He is always good for a yellow card (five last season + one red) and he sometimes can get himself into trouble when he defends high up the pitch. All in all he’s a classic defender like we used to see in the old days. Hard tackling, close to his opponent, good defensive header. At 1,86m height and a robust physique, he should not have any problems to adapt to the Premier League.
With a short term fix in mind he may be, especially at a price tag of around 20 Mill €, the perfect fit. But honestly he wouldn’t be my first choice center back this transfer window although the deal seems pretty close to be finalised.
As we talk about younger defenders why not talk about another player Arsenal have been heavily linked to in recent weeks. His name is Caglar Sovüncü. The 21 year old Turkish national is currently under contract with Freiburg and has been a main factor for them in their last campaign in which he helped them to stay in the Bundesliga. Mislintat has always been looking closely at Freiburg’s young and emerging players. World Cup Champion Ginter, Phillipp or goalkeeper Bürki are three players Dortmund transferred during his time at BVB. With a price tag of around 40 Mill € this deal seems to be a bit unusual for Arsenal standards based on recent years and the proclaimed transfer “war chest”.
But it’s no secret that the most rated Turkish defender has a bright future ahead of him. Nearly all big guns in Europe are after his signature and he will leave Freiburg this summer if the price tag is matched. At a very young age Söyüncü has already shown that he can lead a team and take responsibility. His coaches at Freiburg say he’s eager to learn and develop every day. With around 73% he has a positive tackles won ratio which is based on his physique paired with a good timing. With around 62% headers won he’s good in the air as well. Surely he’s not the finished product yet and the Premier League will be a massive step for him. He needs to work on his level of concentration to avoid sloppy mistakes. His offensive play regarding transition from defense to offense needs work.
At a price tag of 40 Mill € Arsenal need to think twice if they want to take the step. You may get one of the best future defenders but at the same time cannot be sure if he can make the next step onto a big stage like the Premier League. Would I do it? Surely not at that price.
Last but not least German international Max Meyer is another target based in the German Bundesliga. Contract talks with his current club Schalke have broken down and both sides have made it very clear that the future of Meyer lies elsewhere. Max Meyer has been on the Arsenal radar before but with Mislintat in charge of scouting it seems to have been intensified over the last couple of month. Mislintat has been to Schalke a couple of times in recent weeks so there has to be genuine interest especially with Meyers contract running out at the end of June this year.
The 22 year old is without a doubt one of the future German players to look at. He mostly played for the U21 German national team but he already made his debut for the Nationalmannschaft in 2014 and has four appearances to his name so far. His strength could best be described as his versatility. Meyer can play nearly each role in midfield from defensive to offensive positions. With the future of Ramsey in doubt he may be a player we look at to replace the Welshman. In the recent season Meyers main position has been the classic defensive midfield role in front of the back four though. His excellent technique and good passing helps him a lot in fulfilling this position and give it a more modern touch. With around 12 Km/game he covers a lot of the pitch which makes him involved in the team’s build-up play.
Being a free agent this summer Arsenal could do a lot worse than signing a technically gifted but at the same time defensive-minded player like Meyer.