Mikel Arteta has a huge problem in the heart of his midfield at the Emirates and although there are targets that he and Technical Director Edu wish to pursue, it’s hard to say whether any of them would fit the Arsenal brief. Aouar, Maddison, Fekir, Lokonga, Locatelli, and Bissouma are all names that seem to be available for the right price but if Arsenal bought just one, I doubt they’d be any better off.
The type of midfielder that comes as a solitary purchase doesn’t exist anymore in my opinion, the all-rounder, the one capable of raiding the opposition’s goal whilst sufficiently protecting their own. These days that requires two players to fill that midfield role whereas the likes of Vieira did it all and none of the names on that list make you think that they could change the fortunes at Arsenal or make them instantly become strong competitors at home or abroad.
Martin Odegaard is another midfield target, but I’m not sure that Arsenal believe they can get his services for longer unless it were in the form of another loan deal which the player could in theory veto. Odegaard did show flashes of excellence but can he dominate the Arsenal midfield against the top clubs over 38 games plus cup competitions? The pace of the Premier League has made it hard for players to adapt and although the Norwegian seemed to settle in quickly, he only came in during January.
Arteta needs to think very carefully about the blend of his side next season because there were many times they fell short and looked genuinely awful, so the balance has to be right in defence and attack. I was initially very keen on Aouar, but the press statements appeared to indicate that he wasn’t interested in the transfer, and having seen him in a few games since, it’s hard to see what he could offer Arsenal.
To use an analogy, the trouble with shopping in less glamorous stores is that the promise of the goods doesn’t always meet the expectations, especially when the buyer appears more interested in the price tag rather than the quality.
As a fan analysing Arsenal’s shortfalls across the entire season, I don’t think many will disagree that we need a keeper, a right-back, a cover for left-back, a defensive/attacking midfielder, and a creative/attacking-mid. Cutting corners and penny-pinching isn’t the way to go if Arsenal are at least going to make it difficult for their competitors next term.
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The game is changing and has been in transition for a while, those that fail to change face have extremely bleak future, so adaptability has to be a priority for any club with aspirations of success. When you look back a few years ago, midfielders seemed slightly more complete with the likes of Gerrard, Lampard, Scholes, Parlour, Keane, and Vieira.
Now it appears that you pay twice the price for half the ability, but it is what it is and if it takes two players to fill the role, so be it. It’s the modern game so Arsenal need to meet the challenges and stop trying to operate as they did in the good old days.