Arsenal are suddenly all-in on Carlos Soler and promising though he be, the strong, sudden interest is still a bit perplexing.
Arsenal certainly need some fresh legs in this midfield, as I have been covering extensively during the lull in the action. Names like Marcel Sabitzer and Thomas Partey top my wishlist, but retaining Dani Ceballos certainly ranks up there as well.
Someone who has not cracked that list is Carlos Soler, the Valencia midfielder who is apparently about to enter the bargain bin to help the Spanish club raise money.
According to recent rumors, Soler would fetch a cost of £30m, which is just £6m shy of what keeping Ceballos permanently would cost. And in my estimation, there is more than a £6m gap between these two.
I like Soler, don’t get me wrong. But I like Soler at about half that price. It’s insane to pay that much for a guy that doesn’t clearly fit into this midfield set-up. That’s money you spend on a solution, not a project.
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Soler doesn’t score a lot of goals, he doesn’t provide a lot of assists, he doesn’t do a lot of defensive work, he doesn’t dribble particularly well, he doesn’t even complete that high of a percentage of passes. What he does do well is retain possession when he has it. Very Xhaka-esque (but with more athleticism, I’ll admit).
The problem with investing in a guy who controls the ball well is that this is one of the hardest things to translate to the Premier League. Retaining the ball in England is completely different than doing so in Spain, or Germany, or Italy. There’s far more intensity, far more activity. It’s always a rough acclimation period.
Just ask Granit Xhaka. That’s his gig, controlling possession. But when he came over from Germany, he struggled with the speed of the game in England. It took him a couple years before he became the stoic control-tower that he is now.
Soler may have more upside in the goal category than Xhaka (although not too terribly much), but the acclimation period just doesn’t seem worth it when we can spend that money on someone like Ceballos or Sabitzer, who wouldn’t need nearly as much acclimation.
I don’t get it. Arteta has supposedly “sanctioned” a move for Soler, whatever that means, and I have all the faith in the world in Arteta’s judgment. But this is something I’ll struggle to understand until I see it in action.