Arsenal FC manager Arsene Wenger is under immense pressure from fans and pundits to splash the cash on a defensive midfielder and a world class striker having seen all his rivals strengthen. We look at three midfielders Wenger can sign for the Gunners.
Arsenal FC are well stocked in midfield, however, the Gunners have a number of players known for their attacking verve but not for their defensive guile. They do have the impulsive Francis Coquelin who had a breakthrough season in 2014-15 and has been a consistent starter ever since. However, the North London club do not have much in terms of cover for the Frenchman or enough quality to provide competition for the 24-year-old.
In the event of Coquelin’s absence due to injury or suspension, captain Mikel Arteta would be required to fill in. The Spaniard does possess an excellent passing range, however, at 33, Arteta has shown signs of decline that is a worry. The Spaniard has also been plagued with injuries recently and has lost quite a lot of pace, something essential for a player in the defensive midfield position. There’s also Jack Wilshere, who has been deployed in a deeper role for the English national team, however, with his infamous injury record it is hard to fathom that Arsene Wenger can count on him to be fit for an entire season.
The Gunners have been linked with a host of midfielders for the past couple of windows and the general consensus is that Arsene Wenger should sign a defensive midfielder before the transfer window closes. With less than 10 days left till the end of the window, we take a look at the players who could move to the Emirates and who will be an upgrade on the options that the Gunners already have.
Grzegorz Krychowiak (Sevilla)
The 25-year-old Polish international was instrumental in Sevilla’s Europa League win last season. The Spanish side signed Krychowiak from French side Stade de Reims for a 4.5 million last season. However, they will be looking for a fee in the region of a 20 million for his services. The Polish midfielder made it to the La Liga team of the season last term after putting in a string of impressive performances.
Krychowiak is a ball-winner like Coquelin. However, the Sevilla midfielder is three inches taller than his French counter-part and thus displays better aerial prowess. He is also a tough tackler and can help circulate the ball from the deep. The 25-year-old is good at reading the game and makes necessary interceptions as and when required. If the Gunners are successful in their pursuit of the Polish international, he will definitely provide stiff competition to Coquelin for a starting berth and may even be seen as an upgrade on the Frenchman. However, Krychowiak does not have the passing range expected of an Arsene Wenger midfielder and this could prove to be a stumbling block for his move to the Emirates.
Javi Martinez (Bayern Munich)
Martinez was one of the best defensive midfielders in the game when Bayern Munich shelled out a 40 odd millions for his services in 2012. The midfielder grew in stature at Allianz Arena before injuries took its toll on him. The Spaniard suffered a cruciate ligament tear last year and missed almost the entirety of last season recovering from it. Now that he has returned from injury, the Bavarians are well stocked in midfield and this could lead to a drop in the game time for the 26-year-old.
The arrival of Arturo Vidal raises further doubts over the future of the former Athletic Bilbao man. As Martinez enters the prime of his career having recovered from the serious knee injury, he would be keen to be a first team regular at a top club, if not at Bayern. This presents Arsenal FC with the opportunity to sign one of the most complete defensive midfielders in the world. The Spaniard stands at 6′ 3″ and could prove instrumental in helping reduce the number of headed goals that the Gunners concede.
Martinez is capable of dictating play from the deep and can thwart away whatever is thrown in his direction in terms of an opposition attack. The 26-year-old would not only be an upgrade on Coquelin, he would be a star signing under whom the Frenchman could be groomed. The Spaniard is composed on the ball and his build suggests he can’t be bullied. He may just be the best midfielder out there that Arsenal FC can sign. However, there is a flip-side to this story too. His recent injury concerns could prove to be the biggest stumbling block for Arsene Wenger to break the bank for him. The Gunners do have an already fragile Jack Wilshere in their ranks and Wenger would not want his already bloated injury list to further enhance.
Lars Bender (Bayer Leverkusen)
Arsene Wenger is a long term admirer of the German midfielder and even had a bid turned down by Leverkusen for his services in 2013. Arsenal FC’s scouts have scouted the 26-year-old on more than one occasion and Wenger would be hoping to prize away the German from Bayer Leverkusen. Bender is an impressive tackler and does not give away fouls while committing himself into challenges, a truly remarkable attribute.
The German international has been plagued with injuries over the last two seasons and Leverkusen could be tempted to cash in on the 26-year-old. Lars is an excellent reader of the game and also possesses a decent passing range, quintessential to an Arsene Wenger midfielder. He can also be deployed as a ball winner or a midfield destroyer and offers something other than what Coquelin already offers. Bender can also initiate attacks from the deep and help retain possession for the Gunners. It is these qualities coupled with his tactical intelligence that make him the ideal signing for Arsenal FC.