Arsenal need to make a number of signings this summer and amongst the most essential is an attacking midfielder.
The Gunners form turned around at Christmas and that coincided with a system change from boss Mikel Arteta which saw Emile Smith Rowe introduced as the number 10 in a 4-2-3-1. Martin Odegaard then arrived on loan and between the two they shared the number 10 role, with Smith Rowe also influential from the left at times.
Arsenal and Arteta will be keen to keep up this momentum and although Martin Odegaard has been the prime target for Arsenal, it looks unlikely that they will be able to sign the Norweigan permanently, according to a report in The Athletic today.
The club are now thought to be set to pursue other targets more aggressively. So who should they be targeting? A Premier League proven player in the position would be ideal, and it’s hard to look past £50m-rated James Maddison as an ideal option.
Maddison’s only real downside is his injury issues, but the Leicester number 10 was involved in 31 Premier League games last season and 6 in the Europa League.
In the Premier League he notched up 8 goals and a further 5 assists, and the 24-year-old has proven consistently since his move from Norwich that he is a top quality Premier League player.
His ability to retain possession well, with a 83.3% pass accuracy and take shots (2.4 per game) will really interest Arteta. Offensively he also averages 1.6 key passes per game and makes 0.9 dribbles. This ability to both beat a man in possession but also with a pass would be a brilliant addition to Arsenal’s midfield.
Many of these statistics are very similar to what we saw from Odegaard, but Maddison perhaps has more end product due to the fact he is more settled into Premier League life.
Arsenal should be looking for Premier League established players and making signings like Ben White and James Maddison would not only help Arsenal ability wise, but also from a homegrown perspective. Players like White and Maddison still have their prime years ahead of them but also have proven they can perform very well in English football over a number of seasons already.
They won’t come cheap but if Arsenal are serious these are the types of deals they should be paying up for.
Elsewhere in midfield, Arsenal are hopeful of signing Sambi Lokonga after their opening offer was rejected.