Arsenal have reportedly agreed personal terms with Sami Khedira, but a move for Southampton's Morgan Schneiderlin makes much more sense.
It is becoming widely apparent that Arsene Wenger will enter the January transfer window with the clear intention of spending more money. The Gunners are desperate for reinforcements in both defence and defensive midfield.
While the the defence lacks numbers thanks to injuries, the midfield lacks quality, which is more worrying. Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini, while hard working, have been found wanting against the best opposition on a number of occasions.
The lack of protection offered by both Arteta and Flamini has frequently left Arsenal overexposed on the break and forced Aaron Ramsey to sacrifice creative duties to cover. There are plenty of defensive midfielders on the market and Wenger would be a fool not to prioritise the area.
Khedira was widely linked with a move to Arsenal in the summer transfer window. Real Madrid seemed keen to sell and Wenger was keen to buy. However, incredible wage demands of £200,000-a-week saw the deal rightly scrapped by the Arsenal boss.
The wages would have made Khedira by far and away the highest earner at the Emirates Stadium, earning £70,000-a-week more than both Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.
Ahead of January, reports are starting to emerge that Arsenal are in talks with Khedira's representatives over a transfer. Real Madrid know that they can salvage a few million euros from his sale as the alternative is losing him for free in the summer.
Having spent the season on Real Madrid's bench, it is becoming widely apparent that Carlo Ancelotti has no place for him in his squad. Khedira looks set for the exit door and the sooner he leaves, the less damaging it will be to his career.
The 27-year-old has come crashing down to earth and reportedly cut his wage demands in half. Some reports say a deal with Arsenal has already been agreed in principle, but his prospective move is not something Gunners fans should celebrate.
Poor form & injury woes
Khedira famously damaged cruciate ligaments in his knee last season and has played very little football since recovering to prove his fitness.
There is no telling how his knee would hold up whilst playing twice a week in a more physical Premier League. Not only that, but he will be playing in one of the most physically demanding positions on the pitch.
But his knee is not the only concern. Thanks to a history of injuries, Khedira has never started more than 20 La Liga games for Real Madrid in four seasons. Within those seasons, he has never averaged a pass completion rate of over 87 per cent or averaged two successful tackles a game.
Those are disappointing stats for a player who is supposed to win the ball and pass it to the nearest offensive player. Looking at these stats, it would not be outlandish to suggest that Khedira's world-class reputation has come mainly from his association with successful sides rather than individual performances.
Arsenal's style of football demands a high rate of pass completion and an already packed treatment room has no space for another injury-prone star.
Instead Arsenal should be looking to sign Southampton star Morgan Schneiderlin. The France international has proven this season why he is worth his £20 million price tag.
Schneiderlin has so far scored three goals for Southampton, making an average of four successful tackles a game. Last season he averaged 3.4 tackles a game and the season before that he averaged 4.1.
He also lies just shy of a 90 per cent for his Premier League career and has appeared in 76 out of a possible 83 Premier League games. These are the stats of a consistent player, who has little trouble with injury.
Itching to leave
Not only is Schneiderlin looking the better player, he is also just as keen to leave his current club. He may cost a little bit more – £20m valuation compared to Khedira's £10m – but his quality makes it the better deal for the Gunners.
Having lost five major first team stars this summer, the Saints did incredibly well to resist interest in the 24-year-old. Although Schneiderlin tried his best to agitate out of St Mary's, he remains at the club.
However, it is quite clear the player still wants to leave. He has emerged as a player with a point to prove, working exceptionally hard and inspiring Southampton to an impressive third place in the Premier League.
His quotes, emerging on Tuesday afternoon, also suggest he is still keen to leave.
He said in an interview: “Was the meeting with Southampton officials on July 29 tense? Yes.
“Since February/March, my agents and I had talked with Southampton about a possible departure. The club always told me they would sell for the right price.
“My agents and I went to that meeting on July 29 in a peaceful state of mind, with exciting propositions. To me, with my six years at Southampton and everything I had given to the club, everything should have been sorted that day.
“I told them I signed for a project that was supposed to keep the best elements in order to go higher. Before that meeting, (Adam) Lallana, (Dejan) Lovren, (Rickie) Lambert, Luke Shaw and (Calum) Chambers all left. I said to myself: ‘This is not the same situation, this is not possible. What are they doing?’ At that moment, Southampton hadn’t signed anyone."
Arsenal fans would no doubt love to bag another Real Madrid star and a World Cup winner at that, but there is no reason to commit significant funds to a player purely for his good reputation. Schneiderlin may not play for a major European club, but he is outperforming some of the world's best in his position at the moment.
He may cost a bit more, but he has experience in the Premier League and a playing history free of injury. Schneiderlin can become a staple in Arsenal's team for years to come.
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