With Morgan Schneiderlin heavily linked with Arsenal and Manchester United in recent days, it made me think: should we really spend £24million on Schneiderlin?
When I opened the debate on Twitter it was a controversial opinion of mine that I wouldn’t lose sleep if Manchester United signed Schneiderlin. The 25 year old is available, and he plays in a position where we certainly need to strengthen – but is he worth that money? Could we do better?
It boils down to whether or not Schneiderlin would be an improvement to our first team. After all, you wouldn’t want to spend £24million on someone who is going to spend a lot of time on the bench – you might, but you don’t need too.
A late bloomer, you could say – if 12 months ago you said this time next year Coquelin would still be an Arsenal player, I would have been shocked. Although I’ve always been a fan of his tenacious attitude on the pitch, Coquelin seemed to have failed to convince Arsene Wenger – especially in a holding role. His terrible loan spell in Germany did him no favours, where his manager often deployed him on the wing. Since December last year, Coquelin has been re-born. He’s matured and developed physically and mentally in the last six months and can now genuinely be considered good enough to regularly play for Arsenal.
Weaknesses – He’s not the best technical player Arsenal have, but he knows that and appreciates that’s not a strong area of his game. He doesn’t try and overplay it, he anchors the midfield and guards the defence.
Schneiderlin also had a standout season. After being denied a move away from Southampton last summer, Schneiderlin didn’t sulk or complain, he actually played his best season yet and helped Southampton to European football. Possibly the clubs most consistent performer throughout the season, Schneiderlin proved last season wasn’t a one off, he has the quality to play in the Champions League. He has the rare ability to both tackle and pass very well, you can see why both Arsenal and Manchester United are interested.
Weaknesses – Perhaps his defensive contribution. Schneiderlin worked well last season alongside anchorman Victor Wanyama. The Frenchman performs best in an almost box to box role, slightly further up the pitch. It does make you wonder whether he would be capable of playing in Coquelin’s position.
Now stats are down to interpretation, obviously as the two players play for two different clubs – some of the stats can be warped – but stats can give a good indication of a players ability, so they are worth looking at. I have chosen to compare the two based on Premier League appearances only. I’ve chosen seven stats to compare, seven stats that I feel are essential indicators of a good defensive midfielder.
[Francis Coquelin / Morgan Schneiderlin]
Appearances: 19 (3) / 24 (2)
Passing Accuracy: 85.9 / 89.3
Average Passes: 45.5 / 61.2
Fouls Conceded: 1.4 / 1.8
Average Aerial Duels Won: 2.5 / 1.8
Average Tackles: 3.2 / 3.7
Average Interceptions: 3.7 / 2.6
Average Clearances: 3.1 / 1.7
WhoScored average rating: 7.46 / 7.51
Including the average rating stat, the comparison equals out at four each. If we are going to spend over £20million on a defensive midfielder, I want him to be an improvement on what we’ve already got.
Don’t get me wrong, if we signed Schneiderlin I would be happy – he’s a top class player. But do we need two players of equal ability contending for one role? What is certain is that he’s available, and he’s a very good player. Another thing that’s certain is our need for a another defensive midfielder.
So, is Schneiderlin really an upgrade on Coquelin? It’s a tough one, I’ll leave you to judge for yourselves.