Is Xhaka what we have waited for for a decade?? by JH
While we wait for Arsenal to actually announce Granit Xhaka’s transfer to the Emirates, the rest of the country is already deciding if he is the right man for us. Arsenal fans seem to think he is, fans of other formerly interested clubs (bitterly) declare otherwise.
Today I will look at what Xhaka is going to bring to Arsenal and assess how good of a deal we may have got. (Because everyone loves knee-jerk reactions before a player has even kicked a ball for us right?)
To start I’ll look at the rumoured price of the deal.
Most outlets agree the price is somewhere between £30 million and £35 million, which is certainly a large amount for a player yet to be tested on our shores, add onto that the rumoured 5-year deal signed at £120k per week and the ends up much closer to £65 million than 35.
The timing or the deal is what has surprised most, 6 days on from our final game of the season, Xhaka was at London Colney in full unreleased Arsenal kit.
Xhaka had a £23 million release clause that activates next year, but we have acted quickly to get him in now for an extra £12 million, most un-Wengerlike. The timing of the deal is of course very beneficial for us, had we waited for the Euros to pass, and say he single-handedly dominated Germany’s midfield, suddenly the price is closer to £45 million with the likes of Bayern suddenly taking notice.
Now I’ve lost count of the amount of years we have been accused of lacking leaders on the pitch, well Xhaka has been brought in to fix that issue, the 23-year-old was named Gladbach captain at just 22, and according to him, he’s the man you’ll have a problem with if you don’t work hard for his team.
It will be interesting to see who adapts for who in this deal, Arsenal as we know prefer to build with short quick passes to start an attack whereas Xhaka is probably best known for pinging 60 yard passes to a forward in space (the Alonso pass as I call it) he is very capable of these short, quick passes we are known for but his natural instinct is to look for space much further forward.
Xhaka is well up for a tackle, and should supposedly end our lack of bite in midfield, you merely have to take a look at his woeful disciplinary record to see this, averaging a yellow every 5 games and a red every 10. Some point to this as a huge weakness in his game, and although it isn’t ideal, it almost adds to his appeal for me, for too long have Arsenal had to just take it when we are kicked around, well now we have someone to kick back. We have lacked leadership and someone to kick back since a certain former captain left us, and I seem to remember his own disciplinary record wasn’t the cleanest.
Arsenal’s famously small and technical midfield will be getting an injection of power and height too, at 6’1 Xhaka is no Santi Cazorla, and he has the strength to hold off the majority of the premier leagues CMs, he is also very effective in the air, whether in open play or set pieces at either end, he should help improve our effectiveness for both.
Something he does have in common with Arsenal’s other CMs is his extreme calmness on the ball despite pressure, happy to demand the ball with players around him, he has supreme confidence in his ability, and he also has the largest dribble success rate in the Bundesliga this season.
This coupled with 2.4 tackles per game, and 2.7 interceptions make him such an effective CM, which also led to his inclusion in the Bundesliga team of the year.
One will also hope that his shooting instinct is not curtailed by AW as Xhaka is capable of scoring some absolute wonder goals, when he hits a ball it certainly stays hit.
At age 23 Xhaka is yet to reach his peak, back in Germany many touted Bayern Munich as his natural next step, but we got there first, comparisons to Schweinsteiger and Alonso are often thrown about when discussing Xhaka, and I must say I have described him as a faster, angrier Xabi Alonso in the past.
With Xhaka’s ceiling being so high, plus the improvement he brings to our midfield, with Height, Power, aggression, leadership and stunning passing range all being added in one player, £35 million seems a fantastic deal, he is already being touted as a potential captain in a couple of years, and he hasn’t even been announced yet.
My review of this deal may seem a bit one sided here, but having studied him intently for the last few weeks, all I have is that he is unproven in the Premiership, and he has poor discipline, which would be a huge problem if we didn’t have adequate cover, but I don’t think there is better cover at DM in this league than Coquelin. He has also made a conscious decision to try and calm his disciplinary issues following his last red card, he said he would have to learn from his mistakes, he was then booked just once in his final 15 games, quite a turnaround I’m sure you will agree.
Now many of us are fed up of Arsene Wenger nowadays, but we all have to say he has done well to sort this so quickly, there is much more work to be done this summer, but boy what a start.
Granit Xhaka has the potential to be a superb addition to our side, fixing numerous issues in one swoop, £35 million nowadays seems like an absolute bargain for a man who may be our main leader on the pitch for many years.
Now all we can do is hope Wenger continues to be efficient in the market and fixes our issues at CB and of course CF. I will also hope that Xhaka doesn’t flop and make a mockery of this article :).
What do you guys think??
Could Xhaka finally be our Vieira replacement??
Are you happy with the price??
Or will he be more Tom Huddlestone than Xabi Alonso??
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