The Key Area for Mikel to Address
Football’s unscheduled break has given managers in Europe’s top leagues the time to assess their squads and look ahead to the new campaign. At Arsenal, Mikel Arteta is no exception and, among a number of key areas that need addressing, the centre back position is believed to be a priority.
Two men believed to be on Mikel Arteta’s radar are Jonathan Tah and Dayot Upamecano but, while both could make key differences to the current squad, Arsenal fans will be scouring videos and scouting reports to see if either man is up to the task.
Dayot Upamecano is the much-coveted RB Leipzig centre back who appears to be one of the hottest properties in Europe right now. The French Under 21 international has been mentioned in connection with a move to the Premier League with Arsenal supposedly battling against Liverpool and Spurs, along with other European giants including Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
It’s unusual for a centre back to be labelled as ‘exciting’ but that’s a phrase commonly associated with Upamecano. Another adjective used in connection with the player is ‘pro-active’ and he comes with pace and acute positioning awareness. At 21, he’s obviously very young but his capacity for clear thought and his ability to make a decision quickly and effectively makes him seem far more experienced. It’s clear why Upamecano is so coveted around Europe’s big leagues but if Arsenal do miss out on his talents, there are alternatives.
Tah the Man
It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that Arsenal will be able to offer European football next season. The football betting markets on a Top Four finish showed the Gunners to be among the rank outsiders prior to the league suspension but a Europa League slot is a tangible target.
That may be one consideration for another reported target from the Bundesliga – Bayer Leverkusen centre half Jonathan Tah. With a release clause put down at £35 million, he’s a cheaper alternative and at 24, he’s had longer to perfect his game.
Tah is a similar player to Upamecano in terms of his style of play but, if there is a key difference, it’s that the Bayer Leverkusen man likes to keep it simple. Tah will look for the obvious pass rather than the raking, upfield ball that turns defence into attack and maybe that’s what the Gunners need.
Keep Calm and Carry On
The obvious fall-guy in the Arsenal camp would be David Luiz and while we haven’t quite seen the kind of calamitous defending that punctuated his Chelsea career, the Brazilian still splits fans’ opinion.
The other point to note is that Luiz ha just turned 33 and those advancing years will, sooner or later, catch up in a top-flight league such as the EPL. A younger, and calmer, head is needed in the centre of defence and while that’s a tough task for the Arsenal scouts, it seems that either Upamecano or Tah would fill that difficult set of requirements.