The latest in a long list of names to be linked with a move to The Emirates this summer is Sevilla midfielder Gregz Krychowiak. The defensive midfielder is highly rated in Spain, but how does he compare to Arsenal’s current midfield enforcer, Francis Coquelin?
Kondogbia has a similar on-pitch attitude to Coquelin, known for being aggressive and firm in the tackle. He is a livewire infront of the defence, strong in the air, and a great reader of the game. The Pole is more than 3 inches taller than Coquelin, and that height certainly helps him in aerial duels, a particular strength of his. But looking at the statistics, that seems to be the only key area where Krychowiak beats Coquelin.
Coquelin trumps the Polish midfielder in several areas, key for a defensive midfielder. An area of Coquelin’s game that is often criticised is his passing, but his pass success rate is 5% higher. He also averages 4 more passes per game. Crucially the Frenchman’s interceptions, tackles and clearances rate is a lot higher.
Obviously these stats are based on Coquelin’s performances last season, and there is no guarantee that the Frenchman will continue to play at such a high level in the new campaign. If he does, and if he stays fit – then Arsenal might get away with not signing a new midfielder – but it’s a risk.
Krychowiak’s size and stature would make him a very useful addition in the centre of the pitch, as Arsenal’s other midfielders do lack height and presence. The Gunners current first choice midfield duo is probably Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin. They are 5ft 5 and 5ft 10 respectively and whilst between them they have many qualities, there is a consensus that Arsenal miss someone of Patrick Vieira’s ilk in the middle of the park. Krychowiak is far from Vieira, he’s not at that level and he more defensive – but it’s the added inches in the centre where Arsenal could benefit.
Arsenal need more than one quality option in the defensive midfield role, so the addition of Krychowiak would at least add some depth to the area. But questions will surely be asked if Arsenal spent £22million on a player who doesn’t seem to be much of an improvement on Coquelin. After all, it was with similar reasoning as to why the Gunners reportedly decided not to pursue a move for Morgan Schneiderlin. A height advantage is no reason to invest twenty-two million pounds.
Another potential deal-breaker could be Krychowiak’s age. He’s only one year older than Coquelin, and with Arsenal’s other midfielders it’s hard to imagine both getting regular game time. I think if Arsenal do sign a new defensive midfielder they are more likely to be a youngster, or a more experienced, established midfielder.
Personally I think Arsenal need another midfielder to replace Mathieu Flamini, but Arsene Wenger is right to be cautious with who he signs. If it is a big money signing, they need to be better than Coquelin. On the games where I’ve seen Krychowiak play and looking at these stats – I don’t think we can be sure that he’d be an upgrade. The problem is there aren’t any top-level defensive midfielders on the market currently, and that’s why the Gunners may be better suited going for a youngster with a lot of potential like Sergi Samper.
Something Wenger needs to decide is whether he want’s to add someone like Coquelin, or someone like Arteta. With the Spaniard likely to leave at the end of the season, Arsenal could do with another calming presence in midfield, rather than a tough tackler. But it all depends on how Wenger sees the future of the midfield.