Why should Arsenal opt against making the loan deal of Arsenal star permanent in the summer
Arsenal cruised past West Bromwich Albion on Sunday evening to keep their slight hopes of finishing in the European places alive. If the Gunners end up finishing seventh, they have a very good chance of securing a berth in the all-new UEFA Conference League.
Although, that is not confirmed because of many reasons. You can find that reason by reading The Athletic article.
Mikel Arteta has already said that the North London outfit need “changes” in the summer. The Spaniard also claimed that the owners are backing him in the upcoming transfer window.
So, the Arsenal fans can brace themselves for an exciting summer. Each and every decision made by the club in the shop window will, no doubt, split the fanbase. While some would want to extend the contract of Alexander Lacazette, others would like to cash in on him.
While some would say the central attacking midfield position should be the priority, others would argue that it should be right-back. This is completely natural, as everyone is entitled to have their own opinions in football. There is no wrong or right.
The last sentence brings me to my opinion: Martin Odegaard should not be signed on a permanent deal.
I will tell you why…
The Norwegian’s preferred position is number 10, which is also the preferred position of Arsenal’s academy product Emile Smith Rowe.
When Odegaard starts, the Englishman is moved out to the left-hand side of the pitch. Even though the 20-year-old is effective in that part of the ground, it is not a position where he is the most dangerous.
The young midfielder who’s had a breakthrough campaign with the team this season, is the most potent when he is placed behind a striker. When playing from that central position, he can dribble and can even produce eye-of-a-needle passes.
But one of his trademarks is to move into the half-spaces between the winger and the center-forward. That is the position that the opponents dread.
Imagine you are a center-back playing against Smith Rowe. Before heading out to play the match, you will be certain that the 20-year-old will try to get into the “inside channels.”
But what’s the worst thing is that while on the pitch you will blame the central midfielders for not tracking his runs into the half-spaces, while your central midfielders will blame you for not marking him.
To put it simply, it creates chaos. Manchester City is the one team who do it in the most effective and efficient way. A video from a YouTube channel Nouman explains it in an excellent manner.
Put Smith Rowe on the left-wing, and he obviously won’t be able to cover the half spaces on the right-hand side of the pitch. Thus, that takes away some of his positive attributes that the current Arsenal team can benefit from massively.
When deployed at the attacking midfield position, the Englishman has nine goal contributions to his name in 23 appearances. While, when he was deployed on the left-wing, he’s had only one assist in five appearances.
Do a bit of maths and you will find that he makes a goal contribution every 230 minutes when deployed as a central midfielder, to a goal contribution every 450 minutes when deployed as a left winger.
At the other end of the spectrum, when Martin Odegaard has started, he has only played as a central midfielder. And thus In the 25 appearances made by him, the Real Madrid loanee has just two goals to show from it.
Some would argue that Odegaard is the guy who stretches the opposition defense by his passes. He is the guy who is “behind the strings” of the team’s attack. But is that not the case with Smith Rowe too?
The Hale End academy graduate is exactly the type of player Arsenal would be willing to pay big bucks for if he was playing for another club.
Data backs my stance more firmly (the following stats are only from this season’s domestic leagues).
Smith Rowe has had a pass completion rate of 87.6%, while Odegaard was behind at 86%. Smith Rowe is expected to score (xG) 1.1 goals per game, while the Norwegian is slightly trailing his counterpart at 1.
The Englishman also creates 7 “goal creating actions.” While the Norwegian made only 3. While defensively too, the Englishman has overpowered the Norway international. Smith Rowe makes 11 tackles per game, while that number stands at 6 for Odegaard.
Arsenal should target a player, who can play both on the wing and at central midfield to equal effect. Some realistic signings who fall under that category would be Norwich City’s Emi Buendia and Real Betis’ Nabil Fekir.
Impeding Smith Rowe’s development as a number 10 should be the last thing on the mind of the manager who would want a fresh restart next season.
Thus, the following season would be crucial for Mikel Arteta’s future at the club. Knowing what he wants from his team and recruiting accordingly would be absolutely vital, for his survival in London and the club’s evolution.