Three midfielders Arsenal could sign before deadline day
Ned Bristow takes a look at three possible midfield transfer targets for Arsenal in the coming days
Despite the refreshing, valiant efforts of Francis Coquelin and Mathieu Flamini last season, it was plain for all to see that Arsene Wenger needed a genuine, experienced holding midfielder to protect the at times shaky back four as well as to distribute harmless possession into probing attacks. The 26-year-old Bender has racked up over 300 first-team appearances during the course of his career, and has established himself as a consistent and dependable shield for any defence. At Bayer Leverkusen, the key element of his role includes breaking up threatening attacks as they approach dangerous areas, before distributing the ball with the intent of launching a counter-attack. His reliability and consistency would allow for Arsenal’s unquestionably proficient attacking players to press forward with more freedom, knowing that Bender is there acting as a safety net. Much like Nemanja Matic was the key cog in Chelsea’s title-winning squad last year, Bender would keep his Arsenal team-mates gunning forward in the latter stages of games, taking more risks and testing more defences. Furthermore, the chance to add more security and composure to the Gunners’ defensive unit – over whom questions still remain – should not be ignored by the Premier League’s longest-serving manager.
Much like Bender, Borussia Dortmund’s Gundogan is a defensive rock, but the 24-year-old has converted from a playmaker background. Wenger has attempted this transition with his own players many times, and to be able to buy the ready-made package would surely appeal to the Frenchman. Despite signing a new contract this summer, Gundogan remains on the radar of Arsenal as well a number of top English and European clubs, and could easily become the latest story in the Dortmund exodus saga. His importance to the 2013 Champions League runners up is lost on no one, and his spell on the sidelines coincided with the side’s dreadful run in the first half of last season’s Bundesliga campaign. A consistent passer with a sharp turn of pace and an imposing stature, his experience as a title and cup winner with Dortmund in their explosive attacking style would no doubt see him fit seamlessly into the Arsenal spine, particularly as the side look to allow players like Alexis Sanchez and Santi Cazorla even more freedom to terrorise defences. With Gundogan behind Arsenal’s long list of attacking threats both as a playmaker and a safety net, the Emirates’ faithful would certainly be a lot more confident in becoming a sustained force at the top of the table.
Perhaps the most unlikely Arsenal target of the trio despite being the least expensive and in demand, Michael Carrick could be an ideal short-term solution for Arsenal’s midfield woes. Admittedly not the glamour signing Gunners fans are hoping for, Carrick is a seasoned veteran and widely acclaimed expert at marshalling the midfield and putting his defenders at ease. Furthermore, it is an increasingly mooted opinion that the former Spurs man is being phased out by Louis van Gaal. While Carrick has managed to hold down his place so far this season, the summer arrivals of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin – along with Daley Blind’s proficiency in the position – suggest that Carrick is surplus to requirements at Old Trafford. His involvement may become increasingly limited after nine years of service, and the 34-year-old could find a new lease of life at Arsenal. More like Bender than Gündoğan as a player, Carrick is famous for his breakup play rather than his glamourous passing, and the respected midfielder’s unquestionable and proven talent would offer those in front of him a license to attack – as well as a new leadership option in Wenger’s youthful squad.