The create, retain,press group
In some ways this group reflects the younger Ozil’s best traits. Never renowned as a goalscorer, under Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid he showed himself to be creatively adept and defensively switched on when required.
The first name produced via smarterscout’s system will be painfully familiar to Arsenal fans — Pascal Gross, who featured in both games as Graham Potter’s men managed a league double over Arsenal. His aggressive pressing style, demonstrated by his 90 ratings for disrupting opposition moves, made it difficult for Arsenal to comfortably play out from the back. He’s also a set-piece expert and his dead-ball delivery would come in handy at any Premier League outfit. On the other hand, he has the lowest ball-carrying rating of any candidate and does not spend enough time in the opposition’s penalty box. What counts against Gross most of all is his age. Having recently turned 29, he is unlikely to be considered.
Bayer Leverkusen’s Kerem Demirbay was another name that popped up, with his higher defensive output reflecting the fact he tends is also comfortable operating from a deeper starting position. A former Turkey youth international, he switched allegiance and has won two Germany caps since 2017.
His upright dribbling style is a little reminiscent of former Tottenham midfielder Mousa Dembele. As a left-footer who is expert in helping progress the play, he’s someone who could potentially function as a replacement for Granit Xhaka, rather than Mesut Ozil. Having only joined Leverkusen last summer for a fee in the region of £24 million, he might prove difficult to prise away any time soon.
In terms of age profile, 23-year-old Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder Daichi Kamada is maybe the most intriguing of this group. Arsenal would know the player well, having encountered Frankfurt in the Europa League — a competition in which he’s scored six goals from just seven starts. Although he has yet to replicate that form in the Bundesliga, his technical ability and work rate make him an interesting prospect, and there have already been some predictable comparisons with Kamada’s countryman Shinji Kagawa.
More so than Demirbay or Gross, Kamada’s chart shows him to be an effective all-rounder — something which could suit Arteta’s desired style.
The retain, press, score group
What if Arsenal were not so reliant on Ozil’s replacement for creativity, but instead opted for a hard-running, hard-shooting ball-carrier?
Wolves’ Diogo Jota has already illustrated his brilliance against Arsenal on several occasions. His xG from shooting rating of 95 shows his ability to find dangerous goalscoring positions. His game is about far more than that, however. A carry and dribble volume of 82 illustrates his capacity to drive his team up the field, and good defensive numbers show he forms a disciplined part of Nuno Espirito Santo’s press.
A word of warning: Wolves’ strong financial position and their relatively close position to Arsenal in the Premier League standings could prove impediments to a sale.
Lorenzo Pellegrini of Roma has been linked with Everton, after a positive Serie A campaign in which he played in a more advanced role ahead of Bryan Cristante and Jordan Veretout.
While he does not come close to matching Jota’s ratings defensively or in terms of continuity, he does still provide considerable goal threat.
Then there’s Orkun Kokcu, a Turkey Under-21 International making a strong impression at Feyenoord. According to Voetbal International, Feyenoord’s technical director Frank Arnesen is open to selling Kokcu in order to raise the budget for new signings — and Arsenal are said to be one of the clubs on his trail.
As is to be expected with any player so young, there are gaps in his game. A reception in the box rating of 36 suggests he could be more effective in the final third and he’s certainly no tackler. Nevertheless, he remains a very interesting prospect with considerable technical gifts.
The create, retain, score group
If Arteta was willing to reduce the defensive responsibilities on his attacking midfield player, it would open up several other potential targets. These names are somewhat more familiar, starting with Philippe Coutinho.
The players in this category inevitably tend to contribute less defensively — in that regard, Coutinho is arguably the best of this small selection. Where he really shines is in attack: an xG from ball progression of 94 is outstanding, and his xG from shooting also suggests a player who will get you goals.
The Brazilian could be looking for a new club after his loan with Bayern Munich, and the Arsenal executive team have a close relationship with his representative Kia Joorabchian. The issue, of course, would be meeting Coutinho and Barcelona’s considerable demands.
Meanwhiel, Martin Odegaard’s form with Real Sociedad has been excellent. Like Coutinho, his attacking numbers are very good. A carry and dribble volume of 90 is also excellent, suggesting that he could play an instrumental role in helping Arsenal progress up the field.
Odegaard’s spell with Sociedad has been so successful that Madrid have decided to keep him there for another year. It’s highly unlikely they’d consider selling such a promising young midfield player at this stage in his career. If he returns to Madrid and fails to make an impression, perhaps Arsenal would have a chance. For now, this one looks difficult to pull off.
Houssem Aouar has emerged as one of the stars of a Lyon side packed with young talent — so much so that it’s difficult to imagine Arsenal luring him to London, especially without the carrot of Champions League football.
That may not be the worst thing: while the creative dimension of his game is undoubtedly strong, defensively, he has a way to go. His tackling, ball recovery and disrupting opposition moves ratings are all below 15. Aouar is a gifted prodigy but perhaps not the dynamic all-rounder Arteta is looking for.
The create, press, score group
These players are ones whose strength is more in direct intervention than continuity. If you were asked to guess which Aston Villa midfielder might make this list, you’d probably guess Jack Grealish. You’d be wrong: his team-mate John McGinn actually profiles very well statistically.
McGinn’s numbers suggest he excels as a ball-carrier, with a carry and dribble volume of 95. He also rates highly for reception in the opponents’ box and xG from shooting, demonstrating himself to be a significant goalscoring threat. Arsenal have tended to shy away from purchasing Premier League players but with Liverpool demonstrating how effective that strategy can be, perhaps Raul Sanllehi and technical director Edu would consider following suit.
Should Aston Villa be relegated back to the Championship this season, McGinn may be available for a price below his value.
A low link-up rating of 10 would, however, be a cause for concern. McGinn’s touches on the ball are usually when Villa are attacking, which begs the question of whether McGinn can contribute effectively to Arsenal’s build-up play.
In Arsene Wenger’s reign, the Frenchman’s scouts made no secret of their admiration for Russian midfielder Aleksandr Golovin. Arsenal investigated the possibility of signing him from CSKA Moscow before he made the move to Monaco. In Ligue 1, he has continued to blossom, and at 24, is now entering his prime.
Golovin’s numbers at Monaco this season paint him to be an excellent attacking threat from midfield. His ratings of 98 for ball progression and 94 for shooting indicate a player capable of both creating and scoring — something Arsenal are crying out for in Ozil’s position.
The worry with Golovin will be that his role at Monaco is predicated on him playing in a side that play at a faster tempo to that of Arsenal. His low rating of 20 for link-up play indicates that compared to other midfielders, he’s not seeing many touches when not attacking.
Additionally, his ball retention ability of 32 is also pretty low, and although likely influenced by the nature of Monaco’s style of play, is something that would need work to ensure he’s not consistently leaking possession for Arsenal.
Off the ball, Golovin isn’t a solid tackler — as noted by his low tackling ability — but does put in plenty of work to intercept and block passes, and hoover up ball recoveries.
Finally, there’s Jonathan David — a player already on the radar of Arsenal’s current scouting set-up. Although he is expected to develop into a centre-forward, David has also shown impressive ability as an attacking midfield player. As a young player in the Belgian league, he feels like one of the more attainable names on this list.
David’s chart suggests he’s an exceptionally promising young player. A link-up rating of 93 means he’s heavily involved in Gent’s build-up. A rating of 97 for touches in the opposition box shows that he’s equally capable of getting on the end of things.
Defensively, he does not shirk responsibility, either. A tackling ability of 71 is particularly good for a principally attacking player — by way of comparison, McGinn scores just 10 in that category.
These ratings are adjusted for the Premier League, so although David may be playing well in Belgium, there is a tangible difference in quality between the two leagues — something Arsenal would need to consider if they wanted him to contribute to Arteta’s team straight away.