3 Realistic Targets Arsenal should consider to replace Xhaka

Who Arsenal ‘Should’ be Targeting as their Xhaka Replacement


With Granit Xhaka’s transfer away from Arsenal looking inevitable at this point, it would seem prudent that we must look to the future. Clearly Arsenal have the future in-mind with the impending signing of Albert Sambi Lokonga, but although an exciting prospect, I think we can all agree this is not who we hope to see starting alongside Partey against Brentford.


Now disclaimer, it would be logical to speak about Manuel Locatelli and Yves Bissouma (two players who seem perfect for the role), but they shall not be included. This is due to Locatelli’s preference of going to Juventus, and the improbability of Arsenal going in for both Brighton’s brightest talents in Ben White and Bissouma.


Therefore, here are 3 players Arsenal should go for in the coming weeks:


Martin Zubimendi (22, Real Sociedad)


Xhaka is a supremely talented progressive passer, so it would be sensible for Arteta to want someone of equal ability in this department. Rising Spanish talent Zubimendi might just be the man for the job. Last season his total pass completion rate of 89.3% was comparable to Xhaka’s 89.9, and greater than recently linked Ruben Neves’ total of 84.3% (all statistics provided by fbref.com).


Not just a competent passer. Zubimendi can handle himself defensively. He made the same number of blocks (33) and clearances (55) as Xhaka, along with completing 7 more interceptions than the Swiss. Moreover, Zubimendi recently made his Spain debut highlighting his pedigree and, according to Transfermarkt, his market value of £18 million makes him attainable.


Renato Sanches (23, Lille)


Star of Portugal’s indifferent Euro 2020 campaign, and member of the victorious Lille squad, Sanches would be an exciting addition to the Arsenal squad. There has even been indication from the man himself that he would be open to the move. Replying favourably to former-teammate Gabriel’s Instagram message asking him to come to Arsenal.


However, he is a vastly different player to Xhaka. Sanches’ strengths lie in his dribbling capabilities, dribbling past 40 players in 23 games, compared to the Xhaka’s total of 11 in 31 games. Moreover, he does not possess Granit’s progressive passing and defensive abilities; but, will give us more of a threat going forward. Last season, Sanches recorded a goal and assist xG per 90 of 0.28, markedly better than Xhaka’s 0.11.


Fabian Ruiz (25, Napoli)


Arguably, the most unrealistic of the three, Ruiz would be the ideal replacement for Xhaka. Firstly, he is left-footed, so would be like-for-like if he was to replace the out-going Swiss.


Crucially, Ruiz is able to combine Xhaka’s passing prowess with greater dribbling and shooting numbers. Last season he achieved 0.53 shots on target per 90, this is almost double to the 0.21 Xhaka scored. Moreover, he can boast to have greater long-range passing numbers (completing 84.2%) to the Xhaka’s 82.9%, a trait Granit has been renowned for.


Ruiz is no slouch in the press either, an attribute that would please Arteta. His 140 successful pressures, at a success rate of 30%, is greater than all those analysed in this article.


However, with his value being £40 million (which you would expect Napoli to ask for closer to 60) it would be a tough deal for Edu to pull off.


Would you be keen to see any of the players discussed line-up at the Emirates next season? Let us know!


Cameron Emanuel-Burns


Tags Granit Xhaka Sanches Zubimendi


  1. We won’t be getting anyone big this season because we’re broke no money in the pot we av to sell before we buy so we will buy cheap and nasty it’s going to be a long hard season again

    1. I keep asking myself these questions, why is it always hard for Arsenal football Club to buy players(cheap or expensive)?why do we always leave it late to buy a player? Why do we always buy injury prone players? Why do we undervalue our players?
      What is Arsenal still waiting for to bring in a new signing?

      Why Always us!!!!!

      1. Why do Arsenal pay such high wages? Compare how many players Arsenal has on £100,000 and more per week wages to other EPL clubs.

        1. Simple answer…we are no longer a powerhouse where players are just happy to have the privilege play for the Arsenal! Hence why we almost always have to subsidise the privilege with money.

    2. In a way you conspicuously omitted the player with the higher chance of replacing xhaka. Ruben Nerves is better than xhaka in tackling, interception, chance creation, key passes, forward passing, he has never committed error leading to goal or shot. In addition he has premier league experience and cheaper than those in your list. If we aren’t getting Locatelli then Nerves should be the next on the list.

  2. In my opinion, Fabian Ruiz Pena is currently the best replacement for Xhaka. But if Arsenal want to invest in 23 years old midfielder or younger, they could sign Eduardo Camavinga, Carles Alena, Ivan Ilic, Teun Koopmeiners or Patrick de Paula

    1. All of these Players you mentioned, How experienced are they??
      Can they face the Heat, Hustle and Bustle of the EPL??😏
      For me, It is either Bissouma, Lokonga or Renato Sanchez..
      We can’t Trust those unproven guys you listed!! Could be Ceballos kind of players..😒😒

      1. Fabian Ruiz Pena has enough experience and skills to be a good deep-lying playmaker at Arsenal, but I think his defending abilities aren’t as good as Bissouma. However, I believe Arsenal are looking for a midfielder with great long passing and other technical abilities, instead of a great tackler and interceptor

        About EPL, Lokonga has no playing experience in England and Sanches was a flop in Bundesliga/ EPL. Ceballos was a victim of wrong assignment, because he would’ve played better as a CAM at Arsenal

        1. Can we please ignore the “long passing” for once???

          How does this “long passing” works for a team, when the attacking players are helping out their fullbacks and central midfielders to defend and nowhere near the final third of the pitch? This deep defending of the attacking players doesn’t stop while playing quality opposition. But, even against teams in the bottom half and relegated teams, the forwards are spending more time in their own half defending than the final third.

          1. If you saw Italy’s games in Euro, you must’ve seen Bonucci’s immaculate diagonal long passes to Spinazzola on the left wing. The ability to move the ball quickly to the other side in one single pass is essential in positional play and in any asymmetrical overloading tactics

            Xhaka has been doing it for Arsenal and Switzerland. So if we replace him with a right-footed DM like Lokonga, Neves, Locatelli or Sanches, our left CB Magalhaes or Mari has to play that role

        2. Gotanidea I have much respect for you, keep on doing it man, I read everything you write(with love)

          This is my Opinion.

          we have players with similar Epl/ league/ Club stints e.g Kevin De bruyne who floped at chelsea now making headlines at Man City, M. Salah who floped at Chelsea now at Liverpool, Pogba, Wilfred Zaha, Lukaku etc.
          Sanchez is a good bet, we need a player to take on defenders and not players who only pass the ball backwards(goal keeper)

          Ceballos is another player who i think was brought in for a wrong reason; was he a replacement for Aron Ramsey?
          I still feel sorry for him, the guy got confused with the mess at Arsenal;
          – manager(x3)
          – club
          – league
          – tactics
          – teammates
          – language
          – etc
          There was total confusion at Arsenal, sometimes I don’t even blame unai Emery or Wenger, it’s management to blame.
          During U. Emery they let go of our first team players; N. Monreal, Koscielny, Iwobi, A. Ramsey, Theo, Metasacker(retired) etc Bellerin and Rob Holding were on the treatment table.
          Whoever they brought in including Ceballos had no strong foundation to start or begin from and these decisions were the catalyst to unai Emery’s down fall (O. Giroud) left at some point and eventually Scored in the Europa final………..

          Remember!!! At some point we needed a striker RVP went to Man U and won the League(Ferguson) and L. Suarez was our main target, Liverpool only wanted £40,000,000 + . Our management brought in a cheeky £40,000,000 + £1 on the table, Liverpool brushed it aside(luck of seriousness in doing things) who did they bring? Mesut Ozil(£42,000,000) when we had a buffet of midfielders (S.Carzola, J. Wilshire etc) decisions, decisions Is what has made Arsenal to be where it is right now, the sooner they realize the better.

          Arsene Wenger is the greatest manager(opinions) and I rate Unai Emery very high, Arsene Wenger took the blame for all the management’s wrong doings and it was ok with him (no option) and we played in the #Championsleague year in year out.

          M. Arteta is the living truth let’s face it otherwise Arsenal is a sinking Titanic.
          Unless management change the way they conduct business.

          Where is ..
          – Patson Daka?
          – Buendia?
          Someone is still sniffing around with £30,000,000. Trying to get a young star 🌟 Emil – Smith – ROAR!!!!!!!!!!!

          That’s what I call seriousness in doing business!!!!!!!!!!

          Cheap is always expensive!!!!!!!!! And it is taking Arsenal nowhere!!!!!!!!!

          1. Thanks bro. Sanches’ performance was great in Euro, but we should’ve also assessed his latest performance in Ligue 1. If Sanches comes, we’ll rely on Magalhaes or Mari to play like Chiellini

            About Daka and Buendia, I bet Arsenal didn’t consider them as their most important targets, they must sell Lacazette/ Nketiah before buying another CF and they’ve got Smith-Rowe. Otherwise they would’ve spend their budget for Daka and Buendia

  3. Absolutely delighted with Neves to be honest. Don’t know where the hatred for him comes from.

    1. True… He is really good as deep line playmaker..
      His stats in PL are much better than Xhaka.
      Proven PL experienced player..
      Don’t what people see wrong in Neves
      He can give extra goals from midfield which Xhaka can’t provide..
      Any player without PL experience is again risk…
      He may not set in PL
      However in Player like Neves already pretty much set in PL

    2. Neves ain’t a bad midfielder, Bro!!
      He is sometimes Slow and NOT Aggressive enough!!
      He is like Arteta in his Arsenal’s Days!!
      Not strong, Aggressive or Fast, so get bullied Alot!!
      In midfield battles against the likes of West Ham, Everton, Leicester,etc..those attributes are crucial!!
      This is Where Patrick Vieira stood out!!
      Bissouma, Lokonga or Renato Sanchez is the Midfielder we should Get!!

      1. For Aggression you have Partey bro..
        Bissouma And Partey will kill any creativity from Deep line..
        Then there will be tremendous pressure on front 4

      2. Too many people who are pushing Bossouma dont mention that hes a very similar player to Partey. I haven’t seen Lokonga, but from reports hes also similar.im not saying that’s bad, but perhaps variation is needed . Neves is that variation, is young, yrs of pl experience and an established international. I think on balance he is the best central midfielder for us to buy of those we have been linked with.

  4. It’s unfortunate that our views are not considered, otherwise you are absolutely right, i would ask Arsenal to go for Renato Sanchez, that man fits very well

  5. If we want young prospects, Ajax’s Ryan Gravenberch, Rennes’s Eduardo Camavinga are better than Lokonga in my opinion. This is not to knock down the Belgian, but they are in my opinion more talented/ more suited to our play style. For more ready made guys, I think players like Ruiz, Sanches, Neves, Bissouma etc would be good. Let’s hope we get good midfielders.

  6. Fabian Ruiz should be followed.up as a replacement of xhaka please Arteta and Edu
    Time is running out for Arsenal

  7. Interesting article Cameron, esp as I have not seen one from you before, so IF it is your first , please write many more!

    Your three listed players may well be good Xhaka replacements; I don’t know but I feel sure they will have been already assessed by MA and Edu and either rejected or have shown interest.

    It seems to me that only Sanches has been openly mentioned in our press as a possibility to date though.

    My own view on Xhaka is that almost anyone who can move and think quicker than him would be a definite upgrade. He played well for his country the other day but in a far slower, less frantic game than he faces weekly in our Prem. It is his complete lack of pace and immobility that I FIND SO DAMAGING TO OUR TEAM.

    1. Thanks a lot for the nice words, yes my first article for the site – I hope to do more!

      I completely agree, we need to replace Xhaka with someone who has the pace and industry to deal with the speed of the premier league.

    2. Thanks a lot for the nice words! Yes it’s my first, hope to write some more!

      Totally agree with you, we need someone in midfield who has the pace and industry to deal with the speed of the premier league.

  8. I wish to understand what’s all the hype surrounding BUYING players to solve problems. Why do we have an academy if we have to look elsewhere for a solution?

    Did any of our past signing solved any of the problems in the squad?

    What exactly did the signing of Partey, Pepe, Willian, Cedric, Saliba, Mari and a few loan signings have solved so far?

    It takes a group of players at least a couple of seasons spending time together, on and off the pitch, to understand each other and form a cohesive unit. After the departure of Wenger, his two successors have had just a season and a half each. Not to mention the constant tinkering with the squad to suit their needs.

    The club’s technical department must first identify the exact need of the coach before identifying the targets. Just because the coach request for a wholesale change, the board can’t grant his wish. The coach must be allowed to work with the players at his disposal and find the best way to improve every squad members’ game and find the right formations and tactics based on the players’ abilities.

    Debating about what happened during the time of Wenger and Emery at this moment solves nothing. The only person who can do something right now is Arteta alone.

    During his year and a half at Arsenal, how many players have Arteta worked with and improved their game? Ignoring the players with abundant natural talent like Saka, ESR, Martinelli and Tierney, Arteta made very little to improve the individuals in the squad.

    Credit where it’s due. Arteta made a huge improvement in the squad collectively by plugging the leaky defence.

    The manager must spend time to try to improve the squad members individually before making any signings to fill the deficit in his squad.

    Based on the evidence of the league table for last season after Christmas, this current squad has what it takes to finish in the top four. May be we’re missing Odegaard, Ceballos and Luiz from that squad. But, we’ve got back Willock, AMN and Saliba after their productive loan spells elsewhere. Now, it’s up to the manager to do what he needs to do with the squad and prove himself to the board that he can be trusted with future investments, instead of moaning for wholesale change and huge investments.

    I’ll be fine with one or two additions based on departure of any player from the starting eleven. But, I’m content with the squad as it is right now.

    1. VasC You have hit the nail on the head there it is about coaching the players we have and maybe 1 or others We did not do that bad after Christmas So why do we need wholesale changes and as you said the board decide

    2. VasC well articulated and I concur with you. But I still feel we need investment no Odegard but with ESRoar we still need investment.

      By the way Aubameyang Sold his scoring boots just after signing his bumper deal, so we should not expect more from him plus being a striker and not a defender or goal keeper he has past his best, I think we should cash in and stop living in the past.

      We need players who want to prove themselves and make a name at the World stage(SAKA).

      We don’t need players based on their passed form/ experience with no current impact at Arsenal Football club. They must go!!!! China and America Awaits them!!!!! I don’t intend to sound hush/rude but it’s the truth!!!

      Let’s try new things.

      Why should we always be comfortable when things are not going right?

      It’s like we are shot of ideas

      At Arsenal we only have a teenager (SAKA….big up) representing us at the Euro’s anyone else, Apart from the eliminated Xaka?

      1. Odegaard was very good during his loan spell. But, only in flashes. He contributed just a couple of goals and another couple of assists. It’s not as significant as what Bruno Fernandes did in his half-season at Manchester United. Bruno scored 12 and assisted a further 8 goals in 22 games when he signed in January for them the season before the last. Odegaard didn’t do anything close to that by any means.

        Auba had a forgettable season by his own previous standards. But, it’s due to a lot of factor. One of them is playing as a lone center forward. In this Arsenal team, Auba is better suited to play from the left with someone else (Laca) leading the line. That was how in the previous season, he was able to reach that 20+ goals. Auba needs a partner in crime, just the way Henry had Bergkamp, to do what he does best. Laca was sacrificed to accommodate Auba in his role so that “WINNING CHAMPIONS LEAGUE TROPHY WITH ARSENAL” Willian can be played in the wings.

        We already have a bunch of young players waiting in line for just the opportunity to prove themselves. Yet, game time wasn’t coming their way for some reason.

        I like your idea of “TRYING NEW THINGS”.

        Many new things can be tried with the existing squad instead of signing someone to do that. I’d prefer we try new things with the players already at Arsenal before looking elsewhere for a change.

        “Short of ideas” is not the players fault. Someone who is calling the shots is to be blamed for that. Apart from the 4-3-3 and the occasional 3-4-3, many ideas are left unexplored.

        I like to see some change. But, that doesn’t mean that we definitely need to spend.

        1. Nice one, so we stay calm and wait to see who comes out of the dugout next month.

  9. I have to disagree VasC. A team can buy a player to raise their quality, a certain Bruno and Cavani plays for Man Utd.

    1. Just like life in general, in football too, one size doesn’t fit all.

      Arsenal invested beyond their means in the past couple of seasons with nothing to show for in terms of improvement in the league table. It’s undeniable that Arsenal already have a squad big enough to compete in both domestic and continental competitions. yet without continental games for the coming season.

      I’m not against investing in the playing squad. But, I need justification from the manager for further investment.

      Can Arteta justify that his investments in Partey, Willian, Gabriel, Runnarson, Mari are Cedric have improved the league standing under his management? Or can the management trust him with further investment after his handling of players like Torreira, Guendouzi, AMN and Martinelli who were performing better, week-in and week-out, under his predecessor?

      Constant chopping and changing will take us nowhere near where we want the team to be.

  10. If only we had a member of Management/Board on this platform with ears on the ground to act as a link between management and the fans am sure Arsenal Football Club could have been at a very different level by now or maybe the system is different all together.

    You guys on this platform are intelligent your comments, analysis is exceptional.

    Why don’t they buy into the ideas?

    God help us.

    1. Their discussions and analysis behind the scene might be as comprehensive if not more. Just that we cant see them.

      Arteta is definitely improving the team. We went from 56 to 61 pts last season. Though we are 8th, we are only 6 points behind the top 4. In the upcoming season, I predicted we can get 65-70pts. The question is, do you think it is good enough for arsenal? (Back in Wenger’s day, we only had less than 70 pts once during 2017/18.

    2. kedrick, So you think “our fan comments are intelligent and analysis exceptional then?” What, ALL of us?

      We on JA have many wildly different theories and solutions, so I see no possible way that other than a very few can be classed as “intelligent”.

      Many are strongly and irrationally biased against our manager IMO and not worth much at all, I’d suggest.

      1. Exactly, On this platform every opinion is respected and not every opinion will make sense to every person.

        So my point is we all have different tastes/views/ understanding. A coin has 2 sides , you can only see one side at a time unless you’re holding it against the mirror.

        We may have 1 or 2 irrational/ biased comments but that should not overshadow yours and other intelligent comments.

        Overall you guys are exceptional

  11. Do arsenal even need to seek xhaka, the guy is still a good player than all most all the players linked to replace him if he is sold. This could be the first mistake going into the new season.. we just need the right partner for him and he has been doing well since partey plays beside him, we only need a fully fit Thomas partey for most of the season and with epl experience he already has last season. Why not go for a no. 10 to complete our midfield. Partey – Xhaka – and a good no 10. Is still a very good midfield combinations that can take us far.., the team was good, we only lack a creative player in the first half of last season before S.Rowe and odegard came on board.. If arsenal go on and sell xhaka i doubt the will go for an upgrade on xhaka, they might just be looking at young and cheap replacement and maybe a loan for a young and unproven player to be our chief creator going into next season, God save our arsenal.. we should be geeting a good and proven replacement before we sell xhaka or any of our first team member.. arsenal really need an experienc coach

  12. Here we go again. A bucket load of statistics, none of which were gained in the EPL.

    How many of the guys mentioned above played like Xhaka in the Euros?

    Why is Bissouma not included is the three above? I see now that Liverpool have been associated with him. Surely we could have tried for him weeks ago, but I fear it is too late now

    Are these 3 players listed because they would be cheap?

    1. JW
      In the title it says “Realistic”
      In the article it tells you why Bissouma is not included.

      Any chance of discussing the article?

  13. Marseille and Arsenal have reached an agreement of around £15m for Matteo Guendouzi. Saliba will join Guendouzi at Marseille for a season long loan.

    The deal agreed with Marseille is a season long loan with an obligation to buy.

    1. Piotr Zielinski. He is a quality attacking midfielder. But I don’t think, we can get him on the cheap. Napoli rate him very highly.

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