Wolfsburg defender Ricardo Rodriguez has given Arsenal has a huge boost in their pursuit of his signature after telling his club he wants to leave this summer.
The Daily Mail reports the 23-year-old – currently representing Switzerland at Euro 2016 – is open to following compatriot Granit Xhaka to the Emirates and has made his intentions clear to the Bundesliga club.
Rodriguez has forged his reputation as an attacking full-back with deadly free-kick accuracy over the past five seasons in the German top-flight, and his unsettled mindset should be music to the ears of Gunners fans.
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Despite the brilliant consistency of Nacho Monreal over the past couple of seasons, Arsene Wenger has never found a true replacement for Ashley Cole since the left-back departed in 2006.
Kieran Gibbs has also enjoyed bursts of good form since he was promoted to the senior team in 2007, but neither of him nor Monreal offer the all-round package Rodriguez does.
The former FC Zurich starlet has all the key attributes of a modern full-back to make a telling contribution at both ends of the pitch.
His speed, ball control and willingness to get forward are supported by his pin-point crossing, which is arguably the best in the Bundesliga and perhaps even Europe for a defensive player by trade.
Rodriguez has racked up a respectable 20 goals in all competitions since joining Die Wolfe as a 19-year-old in January 2012, but his greatest asset lies in creating chances for his teammates.
With an overall tally of 22 assists for Wolfsburg to his name, his modest return of just four this term does not do justice to his creative influence.
Even in a stuttering campaign by the Wolves’ standards, Rodriguez completed 36 key passes in league matches last season, ranking him in the top five of his side.
But Rodriguez is not merely a winger converted into a marauding full-back. His strength, tenacity and ability to read his opponent’s next move make him a superb one-on-one defender.
Most football fans are aware of his expertise in dead-ball situations, even though he failed to find the net from a direct free kick this season.
All three of his goals came from the penalty spot, but they were cooly taken in high pressure fixtures against Schalke, Borussia Dortmund and a Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid.
If Wenger believes Rodriguez is the man to fill the left-back slot in his best XI, he needs to lock down his signature soon after the conclusion of Euro 2016.
The Swiss reportedly has a £19 million release clause in his Wolfsburg deal and with Manchester United and Real Madrid also thought to be lining up bids, the race for his services over the summer is sure to be fierce.
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