The transfer window is open and whilst Arsenal are yet to officially do anything significant, the club are being linked with moves for several players, whilst the exit door also appears to be wide open for several members of the squad. Arsenal don’t have long to do what they want to do though, with the Community Shield curtain raiser just around the corner.
According to reports from Italy, Arsenal and Roma have a great relationship and it is that great relationship which could help form a player exchange deal this summer. Arsenal currently own Lucas Torreira, a player with undoubted talent, but a player whose talent is not best placed in a Mikel Arteta Arsenal team. Over in Rome, they have a midfielder called Amadou Diawara. Signed from Napoli, Diawara has always been thought of as one of the best young midfielders in the country, but like Torreira, he hasn’t quite found his place and role in the team.
Whilst neither player is likely to be a world class addition, it may be that a straight swap would benefit both teams. I’ve personally followed Diawara for a few years, since he started appearing for Napoli and have always rated him as a great prospect – now aged 23, he just needs somewhere to flourish.
So how does Diawara differ from Torreira, and what could he offer to Arsenal? The most striking is the physical differences between the duo. Torreira has struggled to adapt to the Premier League’s physicality, and Diawara is less likely to have problems, standing at 25cm taller and possessing more physical attributes. Like Torreira, Diawara uses his body well to intercept the ball, but despite his height, lacks significant aerial ability to win aerial duels.
The crucial difference is what the duo do on the ball. Diawara is much more comfortable with the ball at his feet and building attacks from deep positions in midfield. This is highlighted in the stats – whilst both players have good pass success rates (89%), Diawara per 90 minutes averages 50% more passes than Torreira, and this ability to control games in midfield is something Arteta would certainly welcome to the squad. At the moment, Granit Xhaka is the only member of the squad who can offer that structure.
Diawara’s passing range is also much wider. Whilst Torreira has a decent pass success rate, he rarely attempts long balls, unable to switch the play with accuracy. This is something Diawara does well, averaging 3.1 long balls per 90, vs. Torreira’s 1.1. The ability to move the ball fast and across the pitch has been a feature of how Arteta wants to play.
So in conclusion, Diawara is not yet at the calibre of Thomas Partey, neither is he the same type of player, but what the swap deal would probably do is give Arteta a midfielder that suits his style of play and someone who can continue to improve due to his young age (23). Overall, a straight swap is likely to be beneficial to Arsenal – particularly in a window where it may be difficult to do the amount of deals the club will want.