Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has reportedly pulled the plug on deals to sign Sami Khedira, Morgan Schneiderlin and Lars Bender after a rather sudden and unexpected chance of heart. The veteran Gunners boss now believes, for some reason, that Jack Wilshere is perfect to play the anchorman role in Arsenal’s midfield.
Perhaps it’s only just dawned on Wenger that, by splashing out big money on a new holding midfielder, he may need to leave Wilshere on the bench for the club’s most important matches.
However, in order to stand a realistic chance of winning the 2014/15 Premier League trophy, it’s vital that Wenger puts sentiment to one side and pays out for at least one of the aforementioned holding midfielders this summer.
Wilshere: Not a holding midfielder
Wilshere, although clearly a technically-gifted footballer, is not a defensive midfielder. You don’t need to scan through WhoScored.com’s player characteristics section to realise that the 22-year-old can’t tackle.
But pay a visit to the useful website and you’ll see that Wilshere’s weaknesses include the following: aerial duels, discipline and tackling.
Any defensive midfielder worth their salt will specialise in these specific areas, along with the ability to play the simple pass and remain tactically switched on at all times.
Wilshere enjoys venturing forwards, dribbling with the ball and creating chances from the edge of the penalty area. Playing him as a holding midfielder, therefore, would be a case of putting a square peg into a very round hole.
Schneiderlin: A class act - and available?
Any one of Khedira, Schneiderlin or Bender would be an upgrade on Wilshere in the holding midfield area.
Khedira is the man most Arsenal fans want to see through the doors of the Emirates Stadium because he plays for Real Madrid and recently lifted the World Cup with Germany.
But it’s the least fashionable of the trio, Schneiderlin, who could be the best fit. The 24-year-old Southampton ace is a terrific tackler who is also good in the air and reads the game well, too.
There are plenty of reasons why Didier Deschamps named him in his 23-man squad for the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil: he’s tactically disciplined, technically assured and can keep his concentration in high-pressure matches.
That he already knows the likes of Mathieu Debuchy, Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny makes his signing even more or a no-brainer.
Watch: Schneiderlin in action
Will Southampton sell?
The tricky past, as it always is, will be convincing Southampton to sell their best midfielder. There’s been a fire-sale at St Mary’s over the last month or so, with Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw all departing the south-coast club.
Talismanic centre-back Dejan Lovren, meanwhile, is on the brink of joining Liverpool along with Lambert and Lallana.
A bid of £15 million could at least tempt Southampton into selling, particularly if the player demands to leave.
As for Wilshere, well, he can battle it out with the likes of Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey for a midfield role which requires slightly less responsibility.