Arsenal appear to be set to make a huge summer signing, before the transfer window even opens. The need for a dominant midfielder has been pressing for some time, and it seems as if Arsene Wenger has finally addressed the issue.
The player set to fill that void looks to be Borussia Mönchengladbach midfielder, Granit Xhaka. His team are set to finish 4th in the Bundesliga and will once again play in the Champions League next season. But Xhaka’s ambitions lie higher than just qualification and he now looks likely to move to Arsenal, ahead of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.
Reports in Germany now suggest a deal is ‘on the verge’ of being completed. Xhaka would demand wages of around £100,000 per week, whilst his transfer fee will be in the region of £32million. Aged 23 Xhaka has huge potential, and he is already considered amongst the best central midfielders in the Bundesliga. Despite his age, Xhaka plays with a maturity and has been capped 40 times for Switzerland. He stands at over 6ft and is very successful in duels, winning on average 3.5 aerial duels per 90 minutes this season, at a success rate of 56.49%. Despite most of his strengths lying in defensive areas, he can also beat a man, managing to be successful in 81% of his take ons. His pass completion is a respectable 85%, this stat may be distorted by the fact he attempts more than 7 long balls per game – this highlights the quality in his passing range, no Arsenal player comes close to that amount. Xhaka may add more directness to the Gunners style of play.
An area Xhaka needs to improve in is his discipline, after notching up 3 red and 5 yellow cards in the league this season. Another positive of Xhaka’s is his ability to play in many different midfield roles, or alongside many different styles of midfielder. He can play as a deep-lying playmaker, an advanced playmaker, a box-to-box midfielder or even more of an anchorman at the base of a 4-3-3.
Mikel Arteta, Mathieu Flamini and Tomas Rosicky are all set to be released this summer, meaning a new central midfielder was always on the cards for the Gunners this summer. But with Xhaka, Arsenal will have plenty of central options next season. Francis Coquelin, Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Mohammed Elneny can all play in the deep two central midfield roles. Despite all five of those having quality, none possess both the physical and technical attributes that Xhaka offers and he will surely come straight into the line-up, who partners him is another question, but the competition for places will be extremely high should Xhaka arrive.
Ramsey, Cazorla and Wilshere could once again be forced to play in more wide positions, whilst Coquelin could be in trouble after dropping behind Elneny in the pecking order.
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