Arsenal suffered whenever Thomas Partey was out for long periods, particularly towards the end of the season. Not taking anything from the work that Mohamed Elneny did deputising for him Partey’s absence weakened the team. Sambi Lokonga is going to be a fantastic player for the club but his appearances this season showed that he was not quite ready for the physicality of the Premier League.
Arsenal, like every other team are looking to strengthen their team for the new season. The club has been concentrating it’s efforts on a new striker and one, possibly two midfielders. There have been many names mentioned as potential additions to the midfield. Any new midfielder coming the club must be capable defensively as well as offensively. The midfielders of the top two teams in the land, Manchester City and Liverpool perform both roles well. I can’t count the number of times I have seen Bernardo Silva winning the ball back in the left back position or Thiago Alcântara doing the same. Arsenal’s midfielders must be able to do the same.
There are three names that are getting mentioned above others, Youri Tielemans of Leicester City, Arthur Melo of Juventus and Houssem Aouar of Lyon. Getting one of these will be good business, getting two will be great business, but which one of these should the club sign.
Youri Tielemans seems to be the one that the sports press believes will end up at the club. He is 25 years old, so the right age for Arteta’s youth revolution. He has experience of the Premier League. It can be argued that he has been Leicester City’s most consistent central midfielder, performance wise, for the last three seasons. His range of passing is exceptional and his energy is also good. He has a year left on his Leicester City contract so his transfer is likely to be around £25m, half of what Leicester City could have got for him. A steal for a player of his experience and ability. The one concern about Tielemans is the defensive side of his game. Most of this is usually done by his midfielder partner Wilfred Ndidi. If he does sign for Arsenal, it will be interesting how that part of his game will develop.
The next name on the list is Arthur Melo of Juventus. He is also 25 years old. Arsenal tried to sign this player in the January transfer window, but failed because they were not willing to include an option to buy. Seems strange that after refusing to include an option to sign the player permanently, Arsenal should now be after the permanent signing. He is likely to be the most expensive of the three at around £35m. There are several reports claiming that Juventus are looking for a swap deal involving Gabriel Martinelli. If this is the terms of the deal, the Arsenal need to walk, no, run away from the deal. His defensive and offensive capabilities make him the best fit for Arsenal, but not if it means Gabriel Martinelli going to Juventus.
The final player on the list is Houssem Aouar. At 23 he is the youngest of the three, but has years of experience, having broken into Lyon’s first team at a young age. He has also captained the club. Arsenal attempted to sign him two years ago, but the owner of Lyon, Jean-Michel Antoine Aulas was asking for higher fee than the £45m Arsenal were willing to pay. Arsenal ended up switching their attention to Thomas Partey. It was rumoured that Arsenal also wanted to sign him last year, but the deal also proved difficult to complete. Aouar now has 12 months to go on his contract. His market value has gone down with several publications indicating that Lyon would accept £15m rather than risk losing the player for free. His attributes are similar to that of Youri Tielemans, a great passer of the ball, good engine. He is also able to play as a number 10. On occasions he has operated as a deep lying midfielder, a role that requires some defending, meaning his defensive attributes are potentially better than Tieleman. He is similar in stature to Sambi Lokonga so may lack the the physicality of playing in the Premier League, but this can be addressed.
Other players have also been mentioned as possible transfer targets. Some of these are Ruben Neves of Wolves, Douglas Luiz of Aston Villa, and Napoli’s Fabian Ruiz.
These three midfielders are fantastic players and will improve us and give options that we didn’t have last season. My preference will be for the club to sign Youri Tielemans because of his Premier League experience and at £25m is fantastic value. At £15m I think Houssem Aouar is worth the risk. I believe Leicester City may sign him as a replacement for Tielemans. It will be a shame to miss out a £50m player that we can sign for £15m.
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