Arsenal transfers: Five midfielders Arsene Wenger could sign in January
Arsenal transfers:Paddy Dinham takes a look at five midfielders who Arsene Wenger could try to lure to the Gunners in January
A player who has been heavily linked with the club recently. Despite having only just turned 20, he has three seasons of regular domestic and European football under his belt. He is very much the sort of player that Arsene Wenger loves. Athletic and strong but also blessed with a divine touch and a natural ability to spot and execute a pass. Despite having a playmaker’s attributes, he is more comfortable on the left side. This would mean he would not become another suitor for the already overcrowded central positions. His goals have somewhat dried up this season – after getting ten in 2012/13 campaign as Schalke qualified for the Champions League but he has managed just one in 11 outings this time around. He has said he is eager for a move this summer, and although admitting a January move is unlikely, every player has their asking price. Wenger has the funds available to force a move if he feels he really needs the German, who would surely relish the opportunity to link up with compatriot Mesut Ozil.
Another of the Bundesliga’s outstanding young players, although at 23, Draxler makes him look like a veteran. Gundogan is a completely different sort of player though and one Arsenal are more in need of. He is a deep-lying midfielder and a more athletic one that they are currently blessed with. Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta have largely done well for the Gunners this season but the former’s lack of pace and the latter’s lack of strength can be exposed. Gundogan however is the complete package: quick, strong in the tackle and ice-cool on the ball. The only downside is he has been out since the second game of the season with a back injury and is not set to return until the turn of the year. With Dortmund’s Champions League qualification hanging in the balance and some of their other prized assets ready to jump ship, he may think that now is the time to leave. Arsenal will have to move quickly if they want to secure his services though with Real Madrid already heavily linked with a move.
Remember him? Turn the clock back 12 months and he was one of the most sought-after midfielders in Europe. Despite interest from top Premier League clubs, including Arsenal, Rubin Kazan were the only team who placed a firm offer on the table and he made the huge sideways step to Russia. As a true holding midfielder – one that does not really get forward at all – the longer he stays in eastern Europe, the more he will be forgotten. Wenger is a long-term admirer of the Frenchman from his time with Rennes. If he felt the need to add real muscle to his midfield a move could be very viable, with Rubin closer to the relegation zone than European qualification. One of the risks surrounding him is his temperament off the pitch. With somewhat of a hot-head reputation, he was banned from the French national side until 2014 for going to a nightclub before a game. Possibly the sort of behaviour which could derail a title bid. With that suspension expiring in Janurary, he will be eager to make amends and stake a claim to be in Didier Deschamps’ World Cup squad and this could bring out the best in him.
Another player who is desperate to compete in Brazil for Les Bleus. One of the most underrated players in the Premier League and a fixture for Southampton throughout their meteoric rise from League One. The fact he is already settled in England would be a huge plus. Wenger will have had the opportunity to cast his eye over the 24-year-old during Saturday’s encounter and is likely to be impressed with what he saw (other than a few crunching challenges on his prized assets). Despite having only signed a four-year deal in February, he was recently quoted as saying “Southampton is a club that doesn’t make people dream” in relation to his lack of international football. Not a statement of unhappiness but clearly he feels moving to a bigger club would improve his chances. On the pitch, he made more tackles and interceptions than any other player in the league last season and also chipped in with five goals. He is definitely a player of Arsenal quality. The only issue is Saints have made their intentions clear to keep their best players, and whilst clubs often say this, nobody plays hard-ball quite like Nicola Cortese.
A different sort of player to any of the aforementioned. The 20-year-old Athletic Bilbao winger is one of the most highly-rated out of Spain’s next generation of superstars. He is lightning fast and can take on players at will, leading him to be dubbed ‘the Spanish Messi’ when he first broke onto the scene. His form did deteriorate somewhat last season, recording his worst ever scoring return with just two but he was still a permanent fixture in Bilbao’s team. It is also equal to the goal tally of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – the most comparable of Arsenal’s current players. Muniain is capable of matching Theo Walcott’s pace to give Wenger counter-attacking options down both wings that would have the potential to scare the life out of teams. He is still developing and if he was not ready to make himself a first team mainstay yet he would no doubt join the likes of Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere and Serge Gnabry as part of the foundations for a bright future at the Emirates.