In what will almost certainly be regarded as one of the signings of the season, Bayern Munich are inching closer and closer to finalising the capture of Chile midfielder Arturo Vidal from Juventus.
Rumours of the deal have been around for a few weeks now and it would seem that the fee that the Bavarian club will be paying is around £40million, most likely depending on add ons and appearances.
Now, at a first glimpse one would say that this was a considerable sum of money. However, if one was to compare the pedigree of Vidal with regards to Raheem Sterling, who moved for £49m to Manchester City last week, Bayern are getting an absolute bargain.
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In Vidal they are signing perhaps the world's most complete and well-rounded midfielder, one who has considerable experience at both club level (Champions League finalist) and international level (Copa America winner and two World Cup appearances). Not only this but Vidal has previous experience of the German Bundesliga, having been signed from Bayer Leverkusen in 2011.
The significance of this prior Bundesliga term cannot be overstated. So often in football do we see phenomenal players leave their comfort zone for large sums of money and just not hit the same dizzy heights that we know they are capable of.
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Of course I am alluding to players like Angel Di María for Manchester United, Diego for Juventus and, as much as it pains me to say it, Roberto Soldado for Spurs. All three of these players were exceptional for their previous clubs, but disappointed after transferring.
However, one could argue that with the signing of Vidal, the chances of him flopping as such are considerably limited as due to the fact that he played for Leverkusen for three years, notching up 117 appearances and scoring 15 goals.
Vidal can settle
That said Vidal’s experiences in the Bundesliga, whilst important, are not the only positive factor of his history. Having lived in Germany before one can imagine he speaks the language fluently or at least well enough to adapt, as well as having just generally settled in the country.
I feel clubs and players often focus too much on whether they will be able to settle in the country’s league much rather than being able to settle in the country itself. This was seen with Arsenal’s signing of Jose Antonio Reyes from Andalusian outlet Sevilla in 2004.
With 69 appearances and 16 goals in north London his isn't the worst record, but he often missed Spain and did not settle well in London.
Enough about irrelevant players though, the point is that Vidal should be able to resettle back in Germany quite easily, thus lessening the risk of him being an expensive flop.
Vidal at Bayern
Considering that Bayern Munich have recently sold central midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger to Manchester United, most people probably expect Vidal to be a direct replacement. However, during the last campaign Schweinsteiger suffered from injuries that limited him to just the 28 appearances.
It may seem like a solid amount, but in comparison to seasons 2012/13 and 2013/14, wherein he made 36 and 45 appearances respectively, it is a sharp decline. Therefore I can see Vidal being more of a signing to display strength in depth; he will of course be a starter, with his partner in midfield often being the one rotated.
From looking at Bayern in the 2014/15 season, Xabi Alonso, Phillip Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Sebastian Rode and David Alaba were the most-played central midfielders. When considering these players Vidal is definitely the most well-rounded of them all, and I expect him to continue his box-to-box position and partner Alaba or even Thiago Alcantara, as he seems to be getting back to his best.
The perfect midfielder?
Vidal is of a growing number of highly athletic central midfielders who are capable at both defending and attacking, but prefer to use their athleticism and technical guile to push forward.
He played 46 times for Juventus last season, scoring 11 goals, providing five assists and winning man of the match eight times in total.
All told Vidal contributed directly to a goal roughly every 2.8 games, not a bad return at all from a central midfield, especially considering he scored more than striker Fernando Llorente, as well as assisting more than the legend that is Andrea Pirlo.
However, what truly makes Vidal so impressive is that not only did he directly contribute to 16 goals overall, but he averaged the most amount of tackles per game in the entire Juventus squad as well with 3.3 per game, a considerable difference to the second most frequent tackler in Claudio Marchisio who boasted 2.4 tackles per game.
A slight criticism of Vidal is that his passing success rate will need to be improved if he is to fit in Guardiola’s fluid system. Last season it was 84.6%, relatively poor when it's considered that Bayern have six players who have a successful passing rate of over 90%.
Ultimately Vidal should be a great signing for Bayern. He is one of the world's best midfielders and for the price of £40m or less the Bavarian side really cannot go wrong. Vidal’s experience of the German Bundesliga will be hugely significant, as will his knowledge of the German language and culture.
Football fans, is Vidal's capture going to make Bayern even more formidable? Let us know in the comments box below.
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