Arsenal are crying out for some new midfield recruits after a disappointing start to the season has seen them struggle to create chances and have structure in the heart of the pitch. Arteta wants to dominate games, but defend well and attack better, currently, he appears to be blaming the tools in his possession, rather than his own strategy. With that in mind and with the club seemingly behind the manager, who could they bring in in January to have instant impact?
The club can’t really afford to shop too much outside of the Premier League as adaptation time is limited. Arsenal are currently 15th in the league and they need players to come and make an impact now. In this article we look at three players with Premier League experience who could come and help the squad instantly.
1 – Emiliano Buendia
Buendia was a shining light for a struggling Norwich last season and it has surprised many that the Argentine midfielder did not leave the club following their relegation to the Championship. Emi has continued to shine in the second tier of English football this season, highlighting his tenacious qualities. A hard working, creative and versatile midfielder is, on paper, exactly what Arsenal need and the price tag could be modest.
Buendia is just 23 and has a season of Premier League experience under his belt. Last season he only managed one Premier League goal, but secured 7 assists and managed 2.3 key passes per 90 mins in a struggling Norwich side. He also carries the ball alot, another attribute severely deficient in this Arsenal squad, with 2.8 dribbles per 90. This season in the Championship he is dribbling a bit less but creating more and shooting more, showing that in a stronger team, he may be more of a goal threat.
Predominantly playing from the right for Norwich, he is capable of playing as a number 10, deeper in midfield or even from the left. For anything under £25million, this could be a very good addition to the squad.
2 – Sander Berge
Over the years, the Gunners have often been guilt of a lack of height in their team. That’s something Sheffield United midfielder, Berge, would address immediately. Aged just 22 he stands at 6ft 5 inches tall. Don’t let his height make you think he’s not technically sound though. The Norweigan, who already has 23 caps for his country, is very good with his feet and a bit of a deceptive dribbler. Whilst he is more of a holding midfielder, someone who would sit alongside Partey, Sander himself has the ability to carry the ball forward with power, a double pivot alongside Partey could be a frightening prospect.
This is highlighted in the statistics. Thomas Partey and Bukayo Saka are Arsenal’s highest dribblers this season – averaging 1.6 per game, Berge is averaging 1.5. He also makes 1.1 key passes per game, this is more than any Arsenal player.
Interestingly, Stuivenberg (our assistant) was manager at Genk when they signed Sander Berge back in 2017, so he will know all about the players ability. Berge cost Sheffield United around £20million and following a string of impressive Premier League performances, Arsenal would probably have to invest in excess of £30million to convince Sheffield United to sell, especially when they are in a relegation battle.
3 – Yves Bissouma
Like Berge, he is not an attacking player, but his tenacity and athleticism would be a very welcome addition to the Arsenal midfield. Only Thomas Partey really has the level of physicality needed to be part of a dominant Premier League midfield.
Bissouma is not going to bring much creativity, averaging just 0.1 key passes in the league this season. What he does bring though is ball carrying ability with 1.4 dribbles per game. He is also very good defensively and could free up Partey to be more expressive and utilise his more attacking attributes. He averages 3.4 tackles and 1.6 aerial duels per game for Brighton this season, Arsenal’s top tacklers average 2 (Partey and Willock) and Willock is the only midfielder to average more aerial duels won.
Bissouma is a player that earned rave reviews in Lille before joining Brighton and he has certainly showcased his abilities in the Premier League since. Capped 16 times for Mali and with 60 games under his belt for Brighton, the 6ft tall midfielder appears ready to take the next step in his career. He’s unlikely to come cheap though, especially mid-season and Arsenal would likely face competition for his signature.
Aged 24 and with significant Premier League experience, this looks like the type of signing Arsenal need to be doing more.