Xhaka, Guendouzi, Torreira: One Must Go – Who should Arsenal sell?

By the time Granit Xhaka threw down the captain’s armband in protest against the fans, it seemed that his time was up. Signed by Arsene Wenger three seasons ago, the Swiss midfielder was expected to solve all of Arsenal’s midfield problems. Alas, he couldn’t and even seemed to contribute to it. Despite a wonderful knack for scoring from thirty yards and elite distribution abilities, he couldn’t block the midfield from being consistently overrun. This season seemed to be the last straw: the team was performing very badly and now he had disrespected the image of the club. By January, everyone assumed, he would be gone.

That was before the appointment of Mikel Arteta who promptly redefined his role and brought out the best qualities of the midfielder. Nowadays, Xhaka seems indispensable to our football.
Torreira has a less toxic story. The closest he has been to a departure are rumours of a silly loan-with-option-to-buy bid from Italy. But the Uruguayan has been in and out of the team throughout the season and when he was in under Unai Emery, it was largely out of position as an advanced 8 where his qualities were diminished and he was rendered ineffective.
That was also before Arteta got appointed and returned him to his preferred position in front of the defense line. He has mostly returned to being good before an unfortunate injury against Portsmouth in the FA Cup.

Guendouzi’s story has a different arc from either of Xhaka and Torreira. Representative of Emery’s imbalance and chaos in the midfield, the 20-year-old had a better start to the season than most. Very impressive with commanding performances in some games in which it seemed as though he was carrying the team through by sheer will, the Les Bleus youngster reminded everyone of the ferocity of his talent. But the chaos eventually got to him and the Emery poster boy lost his position both on the field and in the first team.

Unai Emery was lampooned in some quarters for overplaying the precocious midfielder and relying too heavily on him. Mikel Arteta has taken the other approach. Used sparingly since he was appointed, Matteo Guendouzi has not been playing much in this new regime.

All of these three midfielders have their advantages and disadvantages. Granit Xhaka, for instance, dictates the rhythm of the team and is consistently the distributor from the middle while also covering Bukayo Saka’s behind when the 18-year-old flies forward. But he can be slow, unreliable, too timid in the attacking phase and lose his concentration in the defensive phase. Those are admittedly less of an issue now under Arteta.

Lucas Torreira adds much bite, athleticism, mobility and defensive steel to the middle while being capable on the ball but his passing range, ball control and height is not optimum.
On the other hand, while Matteo Guendouzi is a very good passer of the ball, mobile, possesing an infectious top-shelf mentality and more technique on the ball, he’s prone to drifting out of position, lapses in the defensive phase and a little tendency to be physically bullied off the ball.
One of these at least must be sold and it’s all a question of what Arteta wants from his midfield versus what he can get in the summer transfer market and the price they could be sold for.
Torreira and Guendouzi are the most valuable of the bunch. They are also the youngest, being 23 and 20 years old respectively. Either of them is worth something above 40 million euros and both seem to have a bright future going forward. On the other hand, Xhaka provides the least transfer value out of the bunch, despite being in the very prime age of 27. His earlier contributions to the team do not seem enough to convince most prospective buyers that he’s worth more than 30 million euros. No one knows how he will evolve going forward.

Assuming that Arteta’s midfield might look a little like Guardiola’s, both Guendouzi and Xhaka seem to fit best the pivote role that the Man City coach employs in front of the defense: a tall midfielder who can control the game by distributing the ball, serve as a defensive midfielder who will win tackles and headers and protect the backline from counterattacks. Both Xhaka and Guendouzi can be that distributor (with Guendouzi being more generally ambitious). They are both not the best DMs: Xhaka is slow, not very athletic and while Guendouzi is better at both aspects, he’s likelier to have strayed out of position. Xhaka is OK at headers while Guendouzi is atrocious and the Swiss midfielder is more reliable at staying back and protecting the backline than Guendouzi who can actually do a better job but only if he’s in the right position on the pitch to do so. Torreira has better defensive qualities than either while being slightly worse on the ball.

It seems then that Arteta’s prime deep-lying midfielder is scattered between the three. And something must give this summer.

Agboola Israel

18 Comments

  1. ClifordKenya says:

    Xhaka because he thinks is the best, obviously he will complain if he starts getting benched

  2. Okiror says:

    i wud actually sell xhaka n guendouzi n leave torreira
    i dont see anything special with guendouzi

  3. pbarany says:

    I didn’t find properly explained (rather than announced) that one of them must be sold.

    In fact they are not working the same trade, even though they are all categorized as CDMs. Xhaka and Guendouzi are more comparable as their key role is to facilitate the transition from defense to attack, but Torreira is a hardcore defensive midfielder aiming to break up opponents (counter)attack.

    Furthermore there are constant gossips (from mostly unreliable sport journalists and rumor mills) about Arsenal wanting to sign Thomas Partey from Atletico or Mady Camara from Olympiakos. From where I stand it doesn’t seem reasonable (neither from economic, nor from team morale point of view) to sell a capable DM and sign a new one for more money.

    I personally don’t think our defensive midfield is would be an area that certainly needs strengthening. Maybe if we sell Ozil, that a capable AM could come in handy, as neither Willock nor ESR doesn’t seem a ready successor for Mesut’s throne, but if he sees out his contract, our lads have a year more to mature.

    Our main dilemma for midfield should this decision: shall (and can) we sign Ceballos on a permanent deal in the summer, or shall we look for another CM?

    1. Loose Cannon says:

      Need to rid Xhaka and Torrera; both are not EPL type players,let alone Arsenal (of the good old days). Both need to go ASAP. Need to be replaced with EPL / a good Championship player, as this space needs physicality and a cool head. Guendozi will develop if coached properly and has the attributes to be a successful footballer.I am not impressed with Cabellos, need an upgrade. Mkhritaryan may do for a year if he does not seek a transfer. Well, Ozil being Ozil, let us all enjoy his dramatics for another year, seems good in a way as ESR can get another loan deal. Midfield needs a revamp. An upgrade on Lacazette, Luiz, Socrates (Marri – sorry no, not good according to the two games he played). Willock needs a loan too. Our priority should be to win the next game. Off topic, we labored to dispatch Everton, Chelsea put four past their keeper, that indicates how low we have fallen.We may be winning games, but we are definitely not UCL material as yet. We need accountability.

  4. Damazane says:

    I would sell Xhaka. Keep Geundouzi only because he is still young. We don’t want a repeat of Serge Gnabry situation. Keep Torreira too. He has the potential to be world class

  5. Siamois says:

    Like I said before,why do people expect MA to play like Pep,he might have spent 3 years with him and learnt a lot but he might not agree with every tactic pep uses and in his own words Wenger/Moyes have had a bigger influence on him than Pep,anyway we all know if one has to go which one it has to be, Guendouzy at 20 has time & physique on his side and with MA coaching could end a good possibly very good player,Torreira does the job well and still relatively young,leaving Xhakha whom after 3 season might be worse than when he first came,27 years old,this would be the best outcome for both parties,he and his family could go back to Germany and easily find a club there,one thing for sure MA has to do something about the midfield,ideally we’d keep Ceballos and move Ozil too!!

  6. Top Gunner says:

    How can you say Xhaka dictates the rhythm of the game? Xhaka is only committing silly mistakes that cost the team. By all means ill keep Gouendouzi. He is a complete athlet, bt only lacks experience

  7. Gregooner says:

    Easy. Guendouzi. He has no apparent strength.
    Kind of like a jack of all traits master of none. Anything above 20m will do since we got him for free.
    Although I don’t want to do a Gnabry with him. These kinds of players become really good in the latter years of their careers and I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water simply because he is somewhat of a late bloomer.

  8. GunnerJack says:

    Who is this wonder boy:

    has a wonderful knack for scoring from thirty yards

    elite distribution abilities

    seems indispensable to our football

    dictates the rhythm of the team

    is consistently the distributor from the middle

    Sign him immediately!

    Oh – it’s Xhaka

    1. S says:

      Torreira confirmed out for ten weeks, will likely miss rest of season. We keep buying injured players, why not sell one for a change

  9. Robert Acedius says:

    Sell Granit Xhaka – now! With Xhaka on the pitch Arsenal are playing with ten men. And Gunners can’t afford playing with a red card from the start. After just TWO minutes of the Hammers game that hopeless man almost passed to West Hams leading goal. After twenty minutes he tried again! And after that he kept passing to the blue players. Is he color blind? What was his pass percentage against WHU? Under fifty? We need to have eleven players all ninety minutes, dammit! Go Asn’l!

    1. Grandad says:

      I would not be averse to selling all three,but I feel Guendouzi has done enough to suggest he is capable of further development.The unfortunate injury to Torreria is likely to make it difficult to sell him during the close season or include him as part of an exchange deal .In this regard I have heard an Italian League side was interested in such an arrangement, but while my source is usually reliable time alone will tell.

      1. RSH says:

        He’s out just 10 weeks give or take, so that should make him available to sell in the summer if team are interested. Hope we keep him though.

  10. Rob McTaggart says:

    100% – Xhaka – 3 seasons and no improvment, way over paid, get rid in summer

  11. Rana Dutta says:

    No question about it. Xhaka should be sold. He has given away more penalties than any other Arsenal players. His other defensive actions leave a lot to be desired. I don’t know when he scored last time. If not sold, he should be loaned out.

  12. RSH says:

    A lot of factors have to be considered. Market value would be a big part of the puzzle. It’s easy to say Xhaka, but then we need to be sure we would get somebody better to replace him. because Guendouzi is not better than him. I know Xhaka gets a lot of crap on this forum, but i’d take him starting over guendouzi without a doubt. And unless Guendouzi improves soon, I am wondering what all the hype surrounding him is about, because he hasn’t really shown he has the potential to be top class. I look at other young midfielders in EPL and I put Guendouzi low on this list. Torreira, has been fine and I’d keep him on squad for sure, if he wants to stay. So really the question is who would replace Guend/Xhaka if we were to sell one of them, and how much would they go for.

  13. Top Gunner says:

    Xhaka and Torreira should leave. They should be accompanied by Ozil on their exit door. These guys cannot protect the defence and they cannot supply our power attack with balls

  14. jon fox says:

    Let’s cut to the chase! Quite irrespective of who else may or may not be played in our midfield or who else may also be sold, XHAKA NEEDS TO BE SOLD ASAP. He is rubbish and always has been We need him out NOW. Simple as that. I think it a sick joke that a rank bad, near useless, slowcoach(in thought and action) player should be a regular pick for a team of our standing. WERE I IN CHARGE , HE WOULD BE SOLD THE MOMENT THE WINDOW OPENS.

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