Three defensive midfielders Arsenal could sign in January
Tom Phillips examines three defensive midfielders Arsenal could sign in the January transfer window
It has already been speculated that Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has requested funds to sign Sergio Busquets from Barcelona – and it is clear to see why. The Barcelona academy graduate has been a regular for the Catalan side, deployed as the anchor of Barca’s midfield, since making his debut in 2008. Busquets has played a big part in the “Barca-way” from Pep Guardiola’s tiki-taka to Luis Enrique’s treble success last season. Busquets’ anchor style of play would provide a different take in Arsenal’s midfield given the likes of Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla and Santi Coquelin cannot provide the same tactical style that Busquets can offer, which would help Arsenal step up to the mark and challenge Chelsea to the title once again.
Lars Bender has been a regular feature for Bayer Leverkusen as a defensive midfielder. The German midfielder plays a very patient game, allowing fellow teammates Stefan Kiessling to play further up the pitch and launch a counter-attack. At 26, Bender provides an opportunity to settle and work hard to improve as a player under Wenger, looking to increase his passing (77%) and interceptions (under two per game on average) as Arsenal like to have defensive midfielders who are competent passers of the game, such as Mikel Arteta. Wenger, however, enjoys working at a project and if he works with Bender to become the competent defensive midfielder that he is looking for then Arsenal have the potential to be title challengers in the long-term.
Bayer Munich player Javi Martinez would be an excellent addition to Wenger’s squad for the upcoming season. With the likes of Cazorla and Wilshere providing a more attacking option from the heart of the midfield, Martinez’s style of play would help the Gunners dominate possession of the game from a deep-lying position. Martinez will be able to dictate the play as well as breaking down any structure in the opposition’s midfield, like in 2013, where he was applauded for breaking down Iniesta and Xavi’s tiki-taka football in a Champions League semi-final tie for Bayern Munich. Martinez has been known to be able to dictate the pace of the game and taking his time in his passing options, very similar to Patrick Vieira’s role under Wenger. Martinez was featured more on the bench in his second season at Bayern under Guardiola, playing either in defence or in a very restricted midfield role, whilst the likes of Xabi Alonso and Phillip Lahm play a more tactical role as defensive midfielders before damaging his cruciate ligaments last August.