With Gabriel set to be announced as an Arsenal player soon, we must now focus on strengthening our midfield. Currently, we lack essential attributes that will allow us to play Arteta’s favoured 4-3-3 system. Hopefully we manage to acquire the services of Thomas Partey as he would provide us with attributes we currently lack, such as physicality, athleticism and aggression.
The other key aspect which must be solved is the lack of creativity and goals within midfield. The latest rumours which have surfaced is the potential arrival of club legend, Dennis Bergkamp joining the coaching set up. If this is to happen, I think there is a good possibility of us bringing in Donny van de Beek, who would be a better option to both Aouar and Coutinho in my opinion.
An incredibly versatile midfielder
One of Donny’s greatest attributes is arguably his ability to play multiple positions and the flexibility he provides. He has shown to be very capable of playing as a right or left-sided central midfielder in a 4-3-3. If we analyse the 2018/19 season, Ten Haag predominantly deployed a 4-2-3-1 system with Van de Beek playing as the 10, in between the lines and behind Dusan Tadic. Not only is he renowned for providing an influence offensively, his ability out of possession is underrated and has provided consistent performances when tasked to play a deeper role. Lets now discuss his attributes in greater depth.
Goalscoring and creative influence
Throughout the entire 2019/20 Premier League season, only four goals came from our midfield, providing clear evidence that more output is needed within this area of the squad. Van de Beek would certainly help address this apparent problem we have. Statistically, his productivity is evident and he could definitely transition the numbers he has provided in Holland, over the last three, into the Premier League.
Van de Beek goal contributions in the Eredivisie
2017/18: 11 goals and 6 assists in 34 games
2018/19: 9 goals and 10 assists in 34 games
2019/20: 8 goals and 5 assists in 23 games
His off the ball movement, spacial awareness and late forward runs is reminiscent to Ramsey’s style of play. Van de Beek’s consistent goalscoring return over the last three seasons is because of his intelligence and ability to exploit spaces in between defensive backlines and take up dangerous positions in the box regularly. On average, he takes 6.34 touches per 90 in the Eredivisie which demonstrates his desire and intent to impact the game in the final third.
In possession, the style of play, structure and patterns installed within the team certainly allows Van de Beek to flourish. In terms of the way Ajax set up, Ten Hagg instructs his wide attackers and full backs to build partnerships, create width, and occupy opposing defenders. These resulting actions creates space for players like Donny, in the middle, and gives them opportunities to pounce on chances that may arise when crosses are coming in from the wide areas. Example of this is his goal against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
The creativity and vision he provides is certainly something we lack. Under Arteta, the absence of Ozil has meant that we have lacked a player who can drift in between the lines, provide a link between midfield and attack and supply our attacking trio. Donny would certainly help us sustain greater levels of consistency against teams who deploy low block, as he is capable of making the right decisions in the final third and executing the correct weight off pass. Statistically, he has created 41 chances in 23 Eredivisie games. The fact that he is still able to create a high volume of chances, despite playing regularly in a deeper role this season, is very encouraging. When compared to our players, only Mesut has created more, with 52.
Outstanding work rate
One of Van de Beek’s most underrated traits is the defensive work rate installed within his game. Arteta wants his players to press in a calculated way, similar to the style Pep deploys. But it is also vital that players are able to sustain high levels of intensity throughout the entirety of games. Donny would certainly provide the manager with these attributes. Out of possession, he plays with great energy and enthusiasm, always looking to win the ball back quickly and allow his team to regain possession. If we dive into his defensive statistics, he averages 3.6 ball recoveries per 90 minutes in the Eredivisie. With regards to tackles completed, he averages 2 per 90 minutes, which is superior to all our current available central midfielders. What’s really impressive is the 3 interceptions Van de Beek makes per game, which provides clear evidence of his hunger to break up play.
What’s interesting to me is how football is continuously developing, with many players struggling to adapt and as a result, have been left behind.
But Donny Van de Beek is a player who is suited to the modern game. His versatile behaviour and ability to play as a number 6, 8 and 10 would allow us to change systems depending on the stage of the game we are in. Vision, ball carrying ability, spatial awareness, passing range, productivity, work rate e.c.t are only a few attributes he possesses in his game.
One player who would certainly benefit with having a player like Van de Beek alongside him is Nicolas Pepe. The relationship developed between Donny and Ziyech at Ajax was a huge success story. Hakim is very similar to Pepe in the sense that both are modern day inside right forwards who love to cut inside on their favoured left foot.
Assuming we eventually bring Partey in, this is how we could line up and attack. This 3-2-5 attacking system in possession, allows us to create overloads on the left hand side. Xhaka moves into the left back position, with Tierney tasked to create width and develop a partnership with Aubamayeng. Bellerin plays as an inverted right back and gives the centre backs a simple passing option. The position Hector takes allows us to cope with transitions and turnovers if possession is lost further up the pitch. Donny would drift towards the right, occupy players and give Pepe more freedom, rather than isolation, to drift in field. A partnership between Nico and Van de Beek would certainly be exciting, with both players able to compliment each other’s attributes.
It’s reported that Ajax’s Dutch superstar is awaiting offers from the Premier League. Rumours are that a bid in the region of £45M could be enough to acquire his services. Absolute no brainer in my opinion and if Dennis was to end up arriving as an assistant coach, this deal could definitely be on the cards.
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23 years of age, 23 years as a Gooner. Arsenal runs through my veins and it pains me to see the current position and state of the club. Reading many football articles over the years has inspired me to write blogs containing Arsenal analysis. I’ve always wanted my fellow Gooners to be aware of my thoughts and opinions of ‘The Arsenal’ and thanks to Dave and Paul, I now have a platform which makes this possible.