Despite all of their progress this summer, Arsenal still do not have a true No 6.
That’s the role many Arsenal fans thought Thomas Partey could fill – let’s be real, we still think that – but the Gunners are determined not to meet his release clause, as they believe it’s too high of a fee, especially in this summer’s market, where crazy deals are being done for about half the price they might have pre-pandemic.
Only a great fool would argue that Partey does not improve this Arsenal team. I am not a great fool, so clearly, I won’t be making that claim. But you all know I am not a great fool, so let’s stop the Princess Bride jokes, and continue with the article.
Arsenal need a player who can fill the holding midfield role, while still contributing heavily in the possession game. They’ll be the first outlet for the centre-backs, and the key to breaking the press, something the Gunners still struggle with. If we want to make a permanent return to a four-back formation, we must act.
And of course, that means splashing some cash, which exists in abundance at the Emirates. Or I should say, could exist in abundance at the Emirates, if it weren’t for the big cheese across the pond sealing his wallet shut with Gorilla Glue.
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So, it’s the same-old story again. Who can we buy for cheap-ish, that can have an immediate impact on our starting XI. It’s not an easy question to answer, but let’s set up the parameters for the player.
Defensively talented, skilled in possession, positionally disciplined, composed on the ball: those are the four major components of any midfielder in Mikel Arteta’s midfield, and are especially important for any holding midfielder we do sign. I’m also setting an age limit of 25, and a price cap of around £30m, assuming we offload Lucas Torreira for the currently touted price of £24m, and can scoop some extra money from the incumbent Emiliano Martinez sale, assuming we also pursue a cheap replacement for the Argentinean. As a result, players like Wilfried Ndidi will be out of reach.
And the final and most difficult component to meet is first-team influence. I’m looking for an immediate impact player, which rules out the likes of Marc Roca of RCD Espanyol, and the widely loved Ibrahim Sangaré of Toulouse. So let’s get into it.