Analysed – Five alternatives if Arsenal can’t afford Odegaard

Five alternative midfielders if Arsenal are priced out of Odegaard deal

It has hardly been two months since Martin Odegaard switched Real Madrid’s white for Arsenal’s red and white jersey. But it did not take him too long to already be considered as a “fan favourite.”

The Norwegian, who was handed the responsibility of leading his national team as a skipper this month, has been exceptional for Arsenal. In his short spell in the Premier League, Odegaard makes 2.09 key passes and has an expected assists (xA) total of 0.15 per 90 minutes.

When placed among some of the best in the league, his true quality is clearly evident. Kai Havertz, for whom Chelsea broke their transfer record for, makes one key pass and records 0.10 expected assists.

Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne has a rating of 3.41 and 0.41, Mason Mount has a rating of 2.95 and 0.22, Jack Grealish’s is 3.46 and 0.37 while Man Utd’s Bruno Fernandes has a rating of 2.96 and 0.35.

However, when you consider that Odegaard joined Arsenal roughly just two months ago and plays for a team who is shy of scoring goals, his stats are quite impressive. The potential is there and everyone can see it.

It is not a case of “if” Arsenal fans would like the Real Madrid loanee to sign for their team permanently. If they had the power and financial muscle, it is pretty much obvious that the cheque would arrive at Florentino Pérez’s office in no time.

However, reality does not work like that. Real Madrid are in a rebuilding process similar to what Arsenal will try to do this summer. As a result, keeping Odegaard would make sense for Real Madrid.

Thus, we look at alternatives that might be better for our beloved owner Stan Kroenke’s pocket as well as for strengthening Mikel Arteta’s squad for next season.

  • Angelo Fulgini (Rennes): Although Fulgini is not a household name across football fans in Europe, it does not mean that the French youth international is not highly regarded by scouts and recruitment departments.

The 24-year-old is more of a goal scoring midfielder rather than a creator. Fulgini has 17 goals and 11 assists to his name during his time at current club SCO Angers.

He is adept at making his way out from congested places and thus can help Arsenal pick up the lock of teams who sit deep, or who press aggressively. His stats this season in the Ligue 1 are below: *all are per 90 minutes

Key Passes: 1.95

Passes into the final third: 3.71

Progressive passes: 4.81

Passes under pressure: 8.64

Dribbles completed: 2.42

Successful dribble %: 51.7

Tackles: 1.02

Pressures: 11.57

Blocks: 0.74

Ball recoveries: 7.51

Interceptions: 0.55

If the Gunners sign Fulgini, they can expect a midfielder who is a good dribbler and passer but not someone who can be relied upon when the team does not have the possession. He is valued at €11 million by the Transfermarkt. His age and valuation makes him an enticing player to at least have an eye on.

Most goals from outside the box in the last 5 seasons of the top5 leagues:

42 Messi
17 Kane
16 Coutinho
16 Mertens
15 De Bruyne
15 Nainggolan
15 Suso
15 Dybala
14 Griezmann
14 Mahrez
14 Depay

  • Suso (Sevilla): Anybody who is a Premier League purist must be familiar with Suso. The Spaniard made 21 appearances for current champions of England, Liverpool.

However, he only had a goal and an assist to show from his three-year spell in Merseyside. Although it did not work out in England for him, he showed what a quality player he is elsewhere.

The 27-year-old had 60 goal involvements in 153 appearances for AC Milan. He has 11 for his current club Sevilla, in 57 appearances.

He joined the Spanish outfit on an 18-month loan in January 2020, but will definitely move to Spain, due to an obligation to buy on his contract inserted by his parent club AC Milan.

With Suso’s signing, Arsenal can better their goalscoring output from the set-pieces. The former Liverpool man has built a name for himself in Italy and Spain due to his precise free-kicks and corners. At 27, his age might not appeal to Arsenal, but his experience can. Below are his statistics that we collected from Fbref.com:

Key Passes: 1.50

Passes into the final third: 3.85

Progressive passes: 4.27

Dribbles completed: 2.22

Successful dribble %: 75.5

Tackles: 0.60

Pressures: 8.47

Blocks: 0.42

Ball recoveries:5.23

Interceptions: 0.54

Like Fulgini, Suso’s defensive statistics are not attractive. However, he definitely compensates his lack of defensive work-rate in his dribbling numbers.

He is more involved in the team plays then Fulgini and is also a better passer than the former. If Arsenal want an experienced head in the dressing room who is adept at passing, set-piece deliveries and dribbling, then Suso is their man.

Valued at €17 million, this can be prove to be a shrewd signing from the North London side.

https://twitter.com/Barca19stats/status/1373368893062938627

  • Orkun Kökçü (Feyenoord): Kökçü is the youngest player that we analyzed for this article. There is a reason to it. Because he is special. Dutch by birth, the 20-year-old switched allegiance to Turkey at international level and have already made two appearances for the senior squad.

His club debut came in 2018, when he was just 17, against VV Gemert in the first round of the KNVB Cup on 17 September 2018. He scored Feyenoord’s second goal, rounding off an impressive night for him.

Since then, he has established himself in the first-team making 71 appearances for them already. His current Goals/Assists tally is at a splendid 10/12.

And when you consider that he was a teenager for most of that duration, it is even impressive numbers.

The Turkish international has vast potential and thus with no surprise has been already linked to Liverpool, Leeds and Arsenal in the past. The only doubt one can have is whether he would be able to survive the rigours of the Premier League.

If that is kept aside for a moment, his stats are impressive for a 20-year-old.

Key passes: 1.24

Passes into final third: 5.32

Progressive passes: 6.56

Dribbles completed: 1.42

Successful dribble %: 66.7

Tackles: 1.24

Pressures: 13.29

Blocks: 1.42

Ball recoveries: 11.69

Interceptions: 0.35

 

  • Leandro Trossard (Brighton and Hove Albion): If you think that Arsenal should not try to sign Trossard just because he plays for a bottom-six side, then you deserve to be called a maniac.

The 26-year-old has been the linchpin to Brighton and Hove Abion’s wonderful attacking plays. Although they have dearly missed a prolific goal scorer, Trossard has been one of the few players to cover up the mess of their strikers.

The midfielder who is usually used as an attacking midfielder is tremendously versatile. The Belgian has been used as a left winger five times, as a second striker and a center-forward four times each.

The 26-year-old has nine goals involvements in 29 appearances for Graham Potter’s men this season. Arsenal were interested in signing the former Genk man before he moved to the Amex Stadium in 2019. However, he snubbed the London club, stating that it would have been a “too big step for me.”

Following are his stats of this season per 90 minutes.

 

Key passes: 1.72

Passes into final third: 2.90

Progressive passes: 4.66

Dribbles completed: 1.31

Successful dribble %: 58

Tackles: 1.04

Pressures: 13.53

Blocks: 1.36

Ball recoveries: 7.29

Interceptions: 0.68

With Trossard, Arteta can thrust him for more defensive work than his previous alternatives that we scrutinized. He definitely is one of those players who deserve a better club to match their ambitions. The Belgian is a very good player talent-wise, and at 26 is yet to unlock his true potential.

 

  • Emi Buendia (Norwich City): Arsenal reportedly held talks with the Argentine’s agent in the winter transfer window to register their interest in the Norwich playmaker. He is well regarded by Arsenal’s recruitment staff and is on their list of attacking midfield options. The 24-year-old had a stellar campaign in the topflight last season, registering seven assists for a team who finished last and got relegated.

A source close to the player told Football.london last month that Buendia is “focused on Norwich and getting promoted” but refused to rule out a possible January move saying that “it depends on Norwich.”

 

The agency which represents Buendia has strong connections with Arsenal having looked after Alexis Sanchez and Emi Martinez at the club in the past few years.

Buendia is a versatile player whose preferred position is right-wing as well as central attacking midfield position. But he can even be deployed as a left-winger. Players who can play several positions are a dream for any football manager, let alone Arteta.

The 24-year-old has continued his excellent life in England in the Championship level this campaign. After he assisted seven times and scored once in the Premier League, he has now recorded 10 goals and 13 assists in England’s second tier league.

Following are his stats from his impressive Premier League campaign.

Just 11 months ago, the former Getafe man was punching above his weight in the Premier League

 

 

Key passes: 2.89

Passes into final third: 5.30

Progressive passes: 6.32

Dribbles completed: 3.87

Successful dribble %: 76.3

Tackles: 3.21

Pressures: 28.89

Blocks: 2.52

Ball recoveries:  8.51

Interceptions: 0.91

His defensive numbers are almost astonishing for an attacking midfielder. He is the most complete player that Arsenal can recruit this summer. His stats show that he is destined for a big move sooner rather than later.

 

Writer’s choice: My first preference would obviously be Martin Odegaard. After having started just three La Liga games, he has not taken time to adapt to a completely new league.

However, Arsenal should be wary of overpaying. I would not recommend the Gunners to splash “another Nicolas Pepe fee.” We just don’t have the resources the likes of Manchester City, Man United and Chelsea boast.

Thus, if are prized out my preference would be Emiliano Buendia. His versatile nature plus his defensive work rate is exceptional. He also has an eye of a needle as we saw so many times last season in the Premier League.

He definitely would have recorded more assists and goals for a top-half team in the Premier League last term. It was just his bad that he played for a team that was poor, finished last and got relegated.

At 24 years of age, he has huge untapped potential. And if Madrid decide to keep our star boy Odegaard, then I would be more than happy if Arsenal sign Emi Buendia.

By signing the Argentine, we would also not hamper the development of our very own Emile Smith Rowe, as the 24-year-old is more than adept at playing various positions across the three behind a center-forward, unlike Martin Odegaard.

 

 

Statistics credit: Fbref.com and Transfermarkt.

 

Yash Bisht

Connect with the writer via Twitter/Instagram: @yarsenal09

READ MORE:  Spanish expert reveals why Odegaard could stay at Arsenal

15 Comments

  1. gotanidea says:

    We’ve had the CAMs already, such as Smith-Rowe, Ceballos, Willian, Nelson, Cottrell, Cirjan and Hutchinson

    A good hardworking CAM isn’t rare, so I prefer Arsenal to invest in another player type that we don’t have. Giroud used to save Wenger’s arse in the second halves with his headers and we currently don’t have any forward who can make such fast impact like him

  2. Kedar says:

    Please no one from French league..
    We have seen what French league in the form Pépé.. he might have improved but still not delivering anything near 72M

    1. ahmad73 says:

      Kante and Mahrez came from the French league. Just saying! Giroud and Kos were not too shabby either. Then we can go back to Pires, Petit and Anelka. Do you want me to go on?

      1. Phil says:

        Viera
        Henry
        Both started in French League and could play a bit I hear

        1. Kedar says:

          Henry and Viera time gone..
          And as far as Arsenal concerns then our French recruitment always been bad
          Giroud was never been prolific striker…
          People here also so many times batter Giroud..
          I can only get agree on 1 point that Kos was best signing in Modern Era but apart from that I don’t see Arsenal have signed anything good from French League…
          Players from French League must be good but then our scouting is pathetic

  3. Grandad says:

    While I really rate Trossard, another winger is not a priority for Arsenal as far as I am concerned.His teammate, Bissouma is a solution for our lack of skill and pace in central midfield and I would welcome him with open arms.With regard to Buendia, every time I have watched Norwich this season he has, quite frankly been distinctly average.Not having seen much of the others mentioned in the article I am unable to comment other than hope we can somehow acquire Odegaad on a permanent basis.

  4. Shine says:

    Sounds good choices.

    Seems RM is not keen to sell Ode. Then there’s no point loaning Ode again to help RM.

    Will be much better to loan player with option to buy in future. And there are quite a number of choices in midfield to buy as well.

  5. Wyoming says:

    And the transfer madness continues.
    6 years ago Odegaard was bought by Real Madrid amid hysteria that he was a teen footballing prodigy.
    So how much did RM pay for the next Messi, Xavi, or Cruyff?
    5mill 10mill 20 mill?
    No the richest club in the world payed the staggering sum of €2.5 mill.
    That’s right €2.5m.
    Now what has the future Bergkamp achieved these past 6 years.
    Played 150 La Liga games, scored 70 goals and 50 assists,
    won multiple Liga and CL titles.
    He has actually spent all of his years on loan.
    He has amassed a huge 39 La Liga appearances 31 of which were for Real Sociedad the Everton of La Liga.
    Just 7 La Liga games for RM in 6 years. Joe Willock a year younger has played 57 Pl Games.
    Tom Davies at Everton the English Real Sociedad at 22 has played 123 PL games. So are Willock and Davies the next PL talents?
    Are they worth €30 mill.
    They are both valued at €16m half of which is because they are home grown. So really €8Mill each.
    And they have way more experience than Odegaard.
    On that basis Odegaard is worth less than €8mill.
    As a comparison the footballing genius that is Danny Ceballos is valued at €30mill.
    In these debt ridden Covid times who is paying 30m for Ceballos or 30 mill for Odegaard the La Liga Joe Willock?
    I know who.
    The same club who spent 50 m on Lacazette and 30 mill on Socritis and 40 mill on Mustafi gave Willian a 4 year deal and coughed up a paltry 72 mill on the prodigy that is Pepe.
    Offer Madrid our own prodigy Reiss Nelson in a straight swap.
    Seems about right to me.

  6. Trent Madagua says:

    I totally disagree with everything about this article. All replacement players are downgrades.
    Plus uu said not to pay any “Pepe” fee. Shame uu will eat your words come next season when Nico will kick off the season on the back of a proper preseason. And your prized player, lol, good luck getting him fit and injury free. Martin is happy here,he will stay if we offer him the right wages, stability and development.

    1. OnceGreat says:

      Have you seen his release clause, Trent?
      Have you seen the 350 million price tag slapped across his contract with Real Madrid? Please do the bare minimum and research things like release clauses before you comment aggressively.
      The best we can hope for is another loan.

  7. Joe. S says:

    A good analysis. It’s Buendia or the young Turkish kid for me. Arsenal need players who will grow into their positions and offer log term stability. No stop gaps please. Are you listening Edu?

  8. OnceGreat says:

    The title should just say five Odegaard alternatives. No club would buy him for 350 million.
    Other than that, I’d probably go for either Trossard or Buendia simply because it’ll take them less time to adapt and they’re less likely to disappoint.

  9. John Ibrahim says:

    kante, pogba, Dembele, mbappe, conman, umpacaeno, and etc

    they are definitely not from this era

    lucky we did not sign any of them, they are not good enough for you and the club…..

  10. ozziegunner says:

    How much is his release clause after 2 years, particularly if not selected to play for Real Madrid or loaned out to other clubs?
    If Odegaard is not selected to play or is otherwise treated poorly by Real Madrid, he can run his contract down. Real Madrid will have to sell him while under contract, and having sell on value, otherwise he leaves on a free.

  11. Sekitya says:

    With grealish added plus bissouma I think our team would be superb

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