Defensive/Holding midfield is one of the key areas where Arsenal need to invest in the January transfer window. Mikel Arteta has been an epitome of consistency since he arrived at the club in 2011, but at 32, he is approaching the apogee of his career, and therefore Arsenal must find his long term replacement.
Mathieu Flamini did well since re-joining the club on free transfer last season, but Arsenal need more quality in that department. The Gunners have had been linked with several good defensive midfielders over the past couple of years; read on the listicle on five such top holding midfield options for the Gunners.
Sami Khedira (Real Madrid)
The German midfielder has less than a year left on his contract and is all set to leave Real Madrid. The 27-year-old has dropped down the pecking orders at the club, and has played only 30 minutes this season (all as a sub) for the reigning European champions.
Khedira is a hard working midfielder who covers the ground effectively. With his measured passing, he combines both defensive and attacking job in the mould of a typical box-to-box midfielder. He has loads of international experience but his high wage demands could be a problem for the Gunners.
William Carvalho (Sporting)
This summer Arsenal have shown a great interest in signing William Carvalho, who is also a reported target of Manchester United. The young Sporting midfielder had been performing at a high level for the past few years and his efforts didn’t go unnoticed.
He was picked for the Portugal national team in the 2014 World Cup but couldn’t make any significant impression. Carvalho has a release clause of €45m, but Arsenal tried to get him on a much reduced fee this summer. Sporting were also willing to negotiate with the Gunners, but the deal fell through in the end as Arsenal were only eager to complete the deal in a two-part payment.
Carvalho himself said recently that he wants to play in the Premier League, and don’t be surprised if Arsenal come up with a better offer in January.
Adrien Rabiot (PSG)
The 19-year-old French midfielder was on the verge of joining Roma in the summer. Like Khedira, he has less than a year left on his contract and could sign a pre-contract with any foreign club in January.
Arsenal are also thought to be one of the interested clubs vying for his signature. He is a highly talented youngster, but has an attitude problem and is often ill-advised by his close peers. He has all the time on Earth though to rectify himself, but it remains to be seen whether Arsenal prepare to take any gamble on him now.
Lars Bender (Bayer Leverkusen)
Leverkusen had rejected earlier bids from Arsenal for Bender. The Gunners however could make another attempt to sign him in January, as he would add loads of quality to the side.
Bender has made 1.6 tackles per game and 2.2 interceptions this season with 2.0 clearance per game. The only area where he needs to improve is his passing; he has an average of 66.9% passing accuracy per game.
Arsenal rely heavily on passing football (Arteta has a 96% passing accuracy) where holding midfielder plays an important role in maintaining the fluidity in attack. Having said that Bender is only 25 and has much scope for development.
Luiz Gustavo (Wolfsburg)
The Brazilian along with Thiago Silva and Neymar was one of the top performers for Brazil in the 2014 Fifa World Cup. Gustavo, the former Bayern Munich midfielder, has been a long term target of Arsenal and despite him signing a long term contract at the Bundesliga club, there are every chances of him leaving, provided Arsenal throw up a tempting offer.
Gustavo is good at tackling (2.9 per game) and always looks to keep hold of possession with short passes (87% passing accuracy) rather than playing fancy long balls. He is ideal for breaking up play and keeping long spell of possession through midfield.
Keeping in mind how hard it is to attract players in January, Arsenal probably would look to sign players who they could buy at a reasonably cheaper rate and therefore a move for Khedira or Rabiot in January looks increasingly likely.
Which of these players you want to see at Arsenal? Let us know. Share your reaction in the comments below…