The Daily Telegraph are reporting that Arsenal are closing in on the signing of Granit Xhaka from Borussia Monchengladbach. The Swiss international is hot property on the footballing market and his acquisition would certainly be a statement of intent from Arsene Wenger.
Central midfield has been a department which the French manager has almost neglected in recent years and it has often been the downfall in the majority of his recent squads at the club.
Xhaka could be an answer to a lot of his problems that are currently occurring in the middle of the park. However, who would be his ideal partner? January signing Mohammed Elneny could be a sidekick worth exploring by Wenger.
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Passing statistics look promising
Using statistics from Squawka, both Xhaka and Elneny seem to produce various outputs which would be hugely beneficial to Arsenal.
Passing wise the duo are very effective, particularly the Egyptian who bolsters a 93% passing accuracy. The 23-year-old Swiss only has an 85% accuracy which is actually lower than the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Francis Coquelin who have 86% and 89% respectively.
However, the key element is the percentage of forward passes registered. Xhaka leads the way with 68.7% with Elneny in second on 64% while both Ramsey and Coquelin lag behind with only 61.6% and 62.2%.
These forward passes are significant as they complement Arsenal's style of football, allowing them to progress up the pitch quicker and put teams under increased pressure while also providing a deep-lying supply line for Mesut Ozil, a man who requires service if he is to thrive.
Santi Cazorla is the option who best challenges the duo of Xhaka and Elneny in this respect, with a 90% passing accuracy with 72.3% of his passes being played forward.
The Spaniard was key to allowing Ozil to thrive in the early stages of the season and the discipline he showed in a deeper role, much like Elneny has done since his arrival, was exemplary, giving Arsenal a very effective platform.
Cazorla the other option
What has become clear in Cazorla's absence and since the signing of the Egyptian midfielder, is that Ramsey and Coquelin will struggle to break back into these midfield roles, assuming Xhaka does arrive in the summer.
The diminutive Spaniard gives Arsenal a technical edge from deep, creating 36 chances from this role before his injury.
Nevertheless, Wenger must consider the possible defensive stability both Elneny and Xhaka could bring to the side, with the Egyptian averaging four defensive actions per game while the Swiss leads the way with five.
These are higher than the other three options discussed and if both are performing these pragmatic duties as well as producing very positive passing statistics, surely they are a sustainable option worth exploring?
This stability, as well as positive use of the ball, is a combination Arsenal could thrive off of. Even when Coquelin made his renaissance in the early stages of 2015, criticisms were still aimed at his inability to pass despite his tenacious attitude.
Ramsey is a player who provides little or no stability from a deeper role, collating by far the highest volume of defensive errors this season with five. His 37 chances created this season highlight what most believe to be true, the Welshman belongs further forward if he is to be used.
Cazorla is the one who surprisingly does bring a level of stability, given his previous offensive tendencies, however, can the small statured Spaniard forge himself into a combative leader in the middle of the park? It seems unlikely over a prolonged period.
Xhaka could be the answer, a physical presence, one who thrives on responsibility and possesses that cutting edge which perhaps the Gunners have lacked in recent times - although this can result in recklessness at times.
Finding a suitable partner would be a tricky task, but Elneny is certainly a viable option. Cazorla has a case too and even the returning Jack Wilshere could be included in the fold. If Wenger pulls off this major signing he certainly has some serious thinking to do.
Who do you think Arsenal will sign in the upcoming transfer window? Have YOUR say in the comment box below!
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