Midfield the key by Peter Doherty
The dust is settled and the die is cast. We are in the Europa League. An outcome that would have pleased us greatly after the first three games of the season, but one that ultimately left a bitter taste in the mouth because of the manner of our capitulation against Spurs and Newcastle. But, it is what is.
Now the transfer window will be upon us and it is vital Arsenal get their purchases right this summer. A lot of the focus has been on the need for a strike force and that is a very legitimate concern. However, the need for strength in depth in the midfield area should be given equal importance. If we look at the successful models that we aspire to emulate in Man City and Liverpool the strikers are not the pivotal positions. Jesus and Firmino are the outright strikers in these clubs, and no disrespect to either player they weren’t the difference makers.
Salah, Mahrez, Mane, and Diaz, are wingers and in fairness that is a position that we are able to boast young ever improving talent in Saka, Martinelli and Smith Rowe and the possible re-integration of Nelson.
De Bruyne, Fabinho, Thiago, Gundogan, Kieta, Foden and Silva are the players who frequently change the course of vital games by dictating the play. These players highlight why the midfield area is key to a successful team.
Arsenal is currently in need of both defensive and attacking midfield options. With the huge amount of money awash in the Premier League it is also important that we get the depth by buying astutely. Even with Elneny’s recent contract extension it wouldn’t be unfair to suggest that we need to purchase three midfielders in order to upgrade and provide competition. As the top two have demonstrated it is is vital to be able to replace a midfielder without having a noticeable drop in quality. Here are three midfielders I would propose that would fit the current needs of our club as well as our budget.
1. Sander Berge.
This is a player that we have been linked with in the past but the price quoted at the time was an exorbitant 30-40 million. A season in the Championship has brought that value down to the 15-20 million mark. It is no coincidence that Sheffield United had a poor start to the season when Berge was injured. And that their upturn in form coincided with his return. Mainly functioning as a defensive midfielder he has added goals and assists to his game since his return as well. If Arsenal pursue him this summer, then you can be assured that Albert Stuivenberg had a major input as he used to manage Berge at Genk and spoke highly of him back then.
2. Gini Wijnaldum:
This former mainstay of Liverpool and Newcastle’s midfield has a wealth of Premier League experience. His free transfer to PSG has not gone as planned as he struggles for first team minutes in France. A loan deal or even a cheap transfer wouldn’t be too difficult to engineer as the player will be keen to be playing first team football in order to maintain his Netherlands place in a weird World Cup year.
3. Youri Tielemans:
He has been widely touted as a target and for me it’s a no brainer, especially if the sum of 25 million is accurate. He’s a quality operator and has a lot of experience for a 24 year old. He already takes responsibility in games and that will only develop as he matures. He has vision and aggression, two characteristics that we need in midfield.
I’d be interested to hear other Gunners selections of potential incoming three midfielders, allowing yourself a budget of 50-60 million.
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