There has been considerable commentary in recent weeks about the changing dynamic in Arsenal’s midfield and it begs the question, will the new set up influence the type of midfield player Arteta looks for in the summer.
After nearly two seasons with Thomas Partey generally playing further up the pitch than his most regular partner Granit Xkaka, the past months of so we have seen their roles reversed. I was genuinely under the impression that the Ghanian was signed as a box-to-box Vieira style, there is no question that his consistency and influence has increased in the deeper position. His performance against Wolves last time out led to Arsenal to extoll Partey’s complete performance on their social media with this breakdown.
The debate among the Arsenal faithful is whether the formation being deployed is still a 4231 with Partey and Xhaka still as a double pivot, just with the Swiss given more license when the Gunners are in possession, or is it is now a 4141/433 with 2 advanced 8’s. That is, to we think Xhaka is now playing permanently further up with Odegaard, with Partey as a sole ‘6’ style DM.
This discussion will continue, and views will differ, but the bottom line is that it is probably just a fluid formation that 2 senior and intelligent players are able to manage on the pitch. The more interesting question is type of central midfielder this new set up requires in the next transfer window. If Partey is happy and asked to remain deep, as it is seemingly increasing his influence will that mean that a purpose built defensive CM such as Douglas Luiz who we have been linked to, is less likely?
Of course, the media will link a resurgent Arsenal, with European Football likely to return to North London, to multiple targets, and guessing which links are most likely is akin to a gamble just like at UKOCL. However, the smart money would be on a younger, quicker Xhaka type midfielder. Once such player is Fabian Ruiz, whose credentials were outlined in a recent scouting report here.
Ruiz is similar is style to Xkaka but far more mobile and would certainly add pace and quicker feet than the Swiss captain around the penalty area. He is also similarly, primarily left footed which provides the balance that Arteta favours. The other player recently written about is Renato Sanches, who is apparently favoured by the Spanish manager. The Portuguese player was resurgent at Lille in 20/21 and after a good Euros has continued his revived performance level this term. This summer he has a year only remaining on his contract and is reportedly not looking to extend his stay in France,
Sanches, having endured a disappointing spell at a big club in Bayern Munich, must feel he is ready for another crack at a big league, and Arsenal could offer him that opportunity. The reports suggest, as with Ruiz, that Sanches, due to both entering their final year, will be available at a cut price. They are different type of players with the Portuguese midfielder more of an offensive player and certainly more of a dribbler. Both could partner Partey and both, at 24, fit the approaching peak years profile that Edu and Arteta have been bringing in.
Both are exciting potential signings but who would you prefer?
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