With Alex Song’s departure to Barcelona confirmed, a place has opened up for a central midfielder in the Arsenal squad for the current season. An inventive individual looks to be top of Arsene Wenger’s shopping list.
Speaking after the Gunners’ frustrating 0-0 stalemate with Sunderland at the Emirates Stadium last weekend, Wenger told BBC
The Mackems sat extremely deep on Saturday and made it difficult for Arsenal to find gaps in their unyielding backline, despite the best efforts of Santi Cazorla who showed great promise on his full debut for the club. Parking of the proverbial bus is likely to be commonplace at the Emirates Stadium this season, which looks to have persuaded Wenger that an imaginative midfielder is what should be the focus of his recruitment.
For many, such creativity was something that was not associated with Cameroon international Song. In his time at Arsenal, Song was used in a withdrawn role as the most defensive player in a midfield trio; the insurance policy for the likes of Mikel Arteta and Tomas Rosicky. As a result, some onlookers may see the addition of a more traditional defensive midfielder to protect the back four as desirable over another attacking threat. The argument has been made countless times: Arsenal require an anchoring midfielder to truly challenge for honours.
It should not be forgotten that Song did provide 11 assists in the Premier League last season – an impressive total for a player expected to contribute to defensive phases of play more often. It is important that Arsenal replace those openings, especially with Jack Wilshere’s injury problems continuing to plague him.
French midfielder Yann M’Vila is still being linked with a move to North London, and will continue to be the subject of rumours until the transfer window closes in a fortnight’s time. If Arsenal are to do a deal, they will have to see off competition from the likes of their local rivals Tottenham Hotspur (see Metro). M’Vila has already rejected a move to Russian side Zenit St Petersburg after receiving death threats from Russian supporters.
Real Madrid’s Turkish international, Nuri Sahin, now looks the more likely deal to end in success for the Gunners. The ex-Dortmund midfielder Sahin made only a handful of appearances under Jose Mourinho last year but would prove a shrewd purchase. Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool are also keen to hijack any potential deal however, and appear to be more willing to bow to the player’s wishes of a 12-month loan over a permanent move.
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