‘World-class’ is a term that is thrown around all too often in football. Most fans will have used this term to describe at least one player in their favoured club’s squad – usually those who seem to be performing at a much higher standard than their peers – but the real meaning of the term is of much greater value. In my eyes, a ‘world-class’ player is someone who could play for pretty much any team in world football while performing at a consistent level.
So, how many world-class players do Arsenal have? The easiest way to answer that question is to look at each area of the team and pick out the best performers in each position. New signing Petr Cech, is undisputedly world class. The £10.9million signing adds to our tally immediately. So let’s kick off with the defence..
Of Arsenal’s first choice back four, only one player stands out as being a truly exceptional player: Laurent Koscielny. The Frenchman is easily one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League, possessing pace, technique, strength and ingenuity in abundance. However, would Laurent get a place in the best sides in Europe? I don’t think so. As good as the 29-year-old is, he is still prone to the odd error/poor display, and his performances are often dependent on whom he is partnered with at the back, rather than his own ability.
Koscielny is very good, but he isn’t quite up to the standard set by the likes of Thiago Silva and Sergio Ramos. Hence, in my opinion, Arsenal don’t have any world-class defenders in their current squad.
Arsenal’s midfield is easily one of the best in Europe. Their collection of intricate passers and elegant dribblers allows them to dominate most teams for 90 minutes, with one touch passing and sizzling one-twos tearing defences apart.
Two of the club’s most popular players, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere, are the first to not make the cut. Ramsey was in world-class form during the 2013/14 season, but that doesn’t make him a world-class player. The Welshman needs to add consistency to his game before he can claim that title. Wilshere has the potential to be world-class, but he will have to improve many areas of his game before reaching that level.
Santi Cazorla comes close, but also misses out on the ‘world-class’ badge of honour. Despite performing at a consistently high level since joining from Malaga in 2012, the Spaniard is a level or two below the likes of Xavi and Iniesta. He just isn’t quite good enough to force his way into any side in the world, despite his undisputed quality and the impact he has on Arsenal performances.
The last midfielder I want to look at is Mesut Özil, who, as expected, easily makes the cut. Not only is the German playmaker world-class, but he is also world leading in his position. There really isn’t anyone who can play in the no.10 role like Özil can, such is his heightened creativity and ability on the ball. Mesut could walk into any team in Europe. He is so good, in fact, that it is likely that the best sides in the world would even consider reworking their own tactics and strategies in order to fit the 26-year-old into their game.
Arsenal are lucky to have this £42 million man in their midst. Let’s hope he stays put for many years to come.
Arsenal’s forward line is far from their strong point. Olivier Giroud is an obvious highlight, with the French striker combining the build-up play and touch of a classy midfielder with the strength and physicality of a target man. He does, however, perform poorly numerous times each season, and his goal scoring record is just a little short of the world-class mark.
The only other player worth commenting on is Alexis Sanchez. Bought from Barcelona for around £28 million in 2014, Alexis has blossomed into one of Europe’s hottest talents in his short time with the club. At Barcelona, the Chilean was an assured component of a well oiled machine, but at Arsenal, he has learned how to lead through example and push those around him to greater heights than they’ve ever reached before. Although question marks still remain around his use of the ball at times, Alexis would be able to get a decent number of games each season in any side in world football, and so, he – just – makes the cut as a world-class player.
Do you think Arsenal only have three world-class players in their squad? Would you include Koscielny in that bracket? Let me know in the comments below.