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Arsenal need a Wing Man. Part 2 – The A-list

 

Raphinha

(Skip this part and scroll down to where the player analysis begins if you’ve read Part 1 already, if you haven’t click the link here)

Before we begin, I will briefly explain what I am looking for in my touchline winger for Arsenal football club.

As is widely known, Arsenal lack quality depth in most positions but it’s more evident on the flanks. Today I will present to you some options from Europe’s T5 leagues that can really make a difference.

Lately, Arteta has shifted to a 4-3-3 with 2 free 8s (like Pep). This system requires high-quality touchline wingers to function properly.  The fundamental requirement for the wingers in this role is as follows- Good in 1v1s, good outlets, good first touch, explosive power, high level of technical ability and associative prowess, good low/high cross, comfortable going in and out, and good movement inside/outside the box. Of course, there are other requirements as well but the above for me are the most important. And Arsenal only have 2 that tick all the fundamental and most of the optional boxes. Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli. ESR performs the role to a good level as well but he is not a touchline winger. He is best when occupying the half-spaces. Nico Pepe, well… let’s just say he is not suited to being a touchline winger in a Possession based system (Extremely poor fundamentals relative to the role)

So, it makes perfect sense that Arsenal are on the lookout for a wing player and today I bring to you some very exciting options.

To find how the radars are calculated, scroll down to the end of the page.

Majority of the radars are presented with Saka in comparison to give a brief idea about what we are looking at relative to what we already have.

We have discussed above the type of profile Arsenal need. Now let’s narrow it down even more to what we really need. Do we need a left footed right winger, right footed left winger, or someone else?

Of Arsenal’s current options only Gabi and Saka fit the winger role to a tee and ESR can operate well but is not as effective. The LW is not the biggest issue because we have Gabi, ESR and Saka who can play that position at a good to very high level. But on the RW we only have Saka to do that. ESR and Gabi are subpar, and Nico doesn’t even pass the entry requirements. So, the player we should be on the lookout for has to tick the following boxes-

1 – Fulfills all our fundamental requirements (at the minimum)

2 – Is primarily a Right winger

3 – Should be able to play LW to a good standard (not a make or break)

 

Serge Gnabry – THE DREAM

Gnabry-v-Salah

Pros – Top of the line ball-striking ability, Good crossing ability, World-class movement in/out of the box, Extremely two-footed, Good explosive power and pace, Very good in 1v1 situations, clinical finisher, Can play LW and RW to a world-class level

Cons – None

My WORD. Gnabry is unbelievable. The radar speaks for itself. Instead of comparing Serge to Saka, I have compared him to Salah, arguably the best right-wing player on the planet. And the data suggests, Gnabry may be even better (strictly from a numbers perspective)

Gnabry Comes from a rare breed of right-footed right-wingers who start on the touchline and cut inside more times than they go outside (Think Sane LW at City). One of the best wing players in the world right now. There is literally nothing he cannot do as a wide attacker. He is the type of player who decides the outcome of games on his own. His ball-striking on both feet is Top of the line. His combination of elite movement, elite ball striking, and clinical finishing makes him inevitable. Every top team in Europe should be competing for his signature. Gnabry has been playing as a sidepiece to Lewandowski all this time. He is a world-class player who is continuously improving and is ready to be the star man of a star team. Return of Serge, oh what a story it would be.

 

Ousmane Dembele – Free Agent

Saka-Dembele

Pros – Top of the line 1v1 ability, Naturally ambi-pedal, good crossing, Ridiculous explosiveness, super agile, Can play both wings to a world class standard (RW more so), extremely fast

Cons – Injury history, Inconsistent concentration levels, off-field issues (reportedly)

Of all the players on this list, Dembele is top in terms of pure talent. Few players begin their careers with as much talent as Dembele had/has. People forget this is the guy who was being compared to Mbappe a few years ago. Electric pace and an extraordinary 1v1 ability make him a dream for every coach in the world. When he is on song and completely concentrated there is no better touchline Right Winger in world football.  More of a creator than a goal scorer, Dembele makes wing play look too easy. If he sorts out his mental issues and finds a way to stay fit for consistent periods of time then there’s no stopping him. Needs to improve his movement inside the box and finishing ability to take his game to the next level.

As the radar suggests, Ousmane Dembele is a world-class player putting up world-class numbers. Is available on a bosman but will require a big contract offer (in minimum of 250k a week wages + a v big signing on bonus and agent fees). Is it really worth taking such a big gamble on a player with Dembele’s injury history?

 

Raphinha – Leeds

Saka-Raphinha

Pros – Great 1v1, Good ball-striking, got an eye for through passes, Great in-swinging cross, Fast, very explosive, Great outlet, got the “dawg” in him

Cons – Movement inside the box, very little experience playing on the LW, extremely one-footed

A player Arsenal have been heavily linked with for the past 2 weeks. A player that makes a lot of sense for Arsenal. A player that is available for an attainable fee and won’t demand ridiculous wages. Come on now, this deal is starting to make too much sense.

Raphael Dias Belloli or Raphinha is one of the major reasons Leeds will still be playing Premier League football next season. Raphinha has been incredible, considering how bad Leeds have performed this season. Extremely fast, great explosive power, and an “Always Win” mentality also known as the “Dawg” makes him a menace for every Full-back in the Premier League. The radar suggests he is not really a ball-carrier, but my eye-test tells me it won’t be an issue if he comes to the carpet. Can easily get those numbers up in our system. Raphinha also has a good eye for a through pass. Another one I would say is more of a creator than a goalscorer (Even though he does have more goals. Let’s not forget creativity does not directly equal an assist)

Doesn’t have much experience on the LW which is a slight concern for me but not a big one as we already have Martinelli and Saka who can play LW to a very high standard, ESR who can play to a good enough standard. + Eddie can also play there if push comes to shove (And Jesus if signed). I say a slight concern because it would mean moving Saka to the LW to accommodate Raphinha in the same team (in case Gabi needs rest/is injured). And this is not ideal for me, I would love to always keep our Starboy on the RW. Or maybe Raphinha turns out to be great at LW too and my concerns are thrown out the window.

All in all, I think Raphinha would be an excellent deal for Arsenal.

 

Michael Olise – Crystal Palace

Saka-Olise

Pros – Extremely good technique, Agile, Great in-swinging cross from RW, High football IQ, Excellent weight on through passes, comfortable receiving and turning in right half-space, good set-piece taker, Can be a rotation option for the RCM in a 4-3-3, Very young

Cons – Inconsistency, Relatively slower and less explosive, Extremely limited experience on the LW, movement inside the box, Work rate/application on the pitch

Olise has been a sensational signing for Crystal Palace. More so, when you look at the price they bought him for. A measly 8 million. Olise is a player I wanted Arsenal to sign last summer. The quality was so evident There was a tremendously low possibility of the move not working out. Lo and behold, he’s looked right at home in the PL. He is a good chance creator, progressor, can go in and out with ease. He’s not physically as good as some others in this article but he is good enough. Combined with his agility, flair, and technique he can easily create separation against most full backs in the league.

He demands the ball a lot and loses it a lot too. Which is something that needs addressing. To be the creative focal point and to be so demanding he needs to be less wasteful. His movement inside the box is not good. Usually follows the same pattern. Maybe it has something to do with his desire to actually get on the end of crosses/cut backs. Fortunately, he is just 20 and has a lot of time ahead of him to iron out his weaknesses and become a top-quality Right-Wing player (or maybe a Free 8 on the RHS?)

 

Moussa Diaby – Beyer Leverkusen

Saka-Diaby

Pros – Very fast and explosive,  Good crosser with both feet, Smart movement inside the box, Good finishing ability, can play on both the wings to a high standard (RW more so), Tenacious personality, Great outlet

Cons – Poor body language when things don’t go his way (things like complaining, throwing hands in the air, etc), Does not track back often (could be an instruction from the coach), Indiscipline

It’s easy to see why I like Diaby so much. Just look at the cons. I really couldn’t find him lacking in any regard when it comes to technique and the fundamentals required to play our wing role. Most of his deficiencies are mental. Maybe he thinks he’s already become too big for Leverkusen? IDK

Indiscipline, poor body language, etc are red flags for me but they can be controlled. Look at Xhaka’s transformation as he’s grown older. And when controlled, this energy can be driven to improve your performance to even greater levels (I can’t think of any better example than Mane here)

Diaby this season had 17 goals and 15 assists (all comps). Those are incredible numbers for a 22-year-old. He definitely doesn’t get enough recognition, which is a good thing if we decide to go for him. A world-class winger in the making.

 

VERDICT: Let me start with this. Each and every one of the A-listers improve Arsenal football club. Only the best of the best are included here after carefully considering the profile that we need , finances & current wage structure. That said, it’s obvious who my first preference is. He’s the dream, he’s inevitable, he’s Serge David Gnabry. I mean, you cannot go wrong with the German. He’s got everything you need in your winger and more. He can decide ultra-important games on his own. This is the guy you build your team around.

But at the same time, I do understand Gnabry is not the most feasible option right now. I do think he is in the realms of possibility but just like Dembele will require an obscene amount of financial commitment. He currently earns around 130k a week. And will demand a bumper new contract wherever he goes, which he most definitely deserves. Seeing how the club is moving, its possible for us to afford one 300k a week player but that will damage the whole wage structure at the club. And what if he gets injured or catches the big-contract virus like Ozil, Sanchez, Auba and many more? This will only lead to disharmony in the squad with other players also demanding similar wages. And we all know, this story never ends well.

This is also the reason I did not include Raheem Sterling in any of my list. He currently earns 260k a week, so I’ll leave you to take a wild guess about his demands for the next contract. Combined this with the 55 mil + transfer fee we will have to pay for Gnabry/Sterling make them extremely difficult targets for this window. Sterling becomes a fairy-tale while Gnabry even though achievable will require too many pieces to move in our favour. Dembele being a bosman is also in the realms of possibility but considering the financial muscle we’ll have to flex + his injury issues, it’s a big fat NO from me.

This is where Diaby, Raphinha and Olise come in. Three top quality, young players with a similar profile but varied strengths. Numbers suggest Diaby is the best of the rest and he might as well be but my spidey senses tell me Raphinha is the best Wing-man for Arsenal Club de futbol. Alongside all of the pros that we discussed earlier, he is PL proven. He’s got a winner’s mentality and has shown he can run a team’s attack single-handedly. Will cost around 50 million pounds and 100 – 130k a week in wages which is fair for the quality he provides. Taking into account all angles, Raphinha is my number 1 wing recommendation to Edu and his team if we cannot turn the Serge dream into reality (which we most likely can’t this summer)

Let’s talk Diaby then. This is a player I could not find a technical/tactical con in. We will need to keep his mentality in check but it doesn’t hurt to have 1 or 2 demanding players like Diaby in the team. There is a very fine line between being demanding and ill-disciplined and we very well know Arteta does not like unprofessionalism (Ozil, Guendo, Auba, AMN). Diaby makes more sense in terms of numbers (better than Raphinha), age (younger than Raphinha), profile (can play both sides to a high level) but watching them technically/tactically/body language, I strongly believe Raphinha is the MAN. It was a tough battle inside my head and Raphinha came out on top. Diaby was very very close though and if for some reason (Barca) we cannot sign Raphinha, we should immediately shift all our focus towards Moussa Diaby.

Olise is the backup option in case we don’t get any of Serge, Raphinha, Diaby. The youngest player on this list. It wouldn’t hurt to say Olise is a hybrid winger/playmaker unlike all of the above options. Yes, most of the players here do have very good creator qualities but Olise IMO has the highest ceiling as a wide creator. To top it off he can create separation against most of the full-backs he will ever come up against. Down the line (2/3 years) I expect him to fully take over as Crystal Palace’s main man mantle from Zaha and then move on to bigger, better things. I have no doubt Olise will play for a CL club but right now his impact in relation to the profile we are looking for will be smaller than the other 3 and this is not taking into account his inconsistent form. + We just got Fabio Vieira who can play the wide creator role to a level, Olise can only dream of.

So to conclude, this 2 part series. My winger recommendations for Arsenal football club in the order of preference are –

1 – Gnabry (if we can get him on a contract with base pay less than 220k a week, very unlikely)

1 – Raphinha

2 – Diaby

3 – Olise

4 – McNeil

5 – Podence

Yes, I know there are 2 Number 1 recommendations, deal with it!

Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed. If you did please drop a follow to @Wanalyst007 on twitter and share this article on your socials.

P.S – How the numbers on the radar are calculated?

Players must have played a minimum of 1000 minutes in the 21/22 season. Primary position should be on the wings (some exceptions made). All numbers are per90 values which are then converted into percentiles.

Player’s percentile numbers and Radar plots are calculated only using the data from wing players from their respective leagues. For example – In a figure comprising of Saka’s radar and Chiesa’s radar. Saka’s percentile numbers/radar were produced using only PL wingers data. Similarly, Chiesa’s percentile numbers/radar from Seria A wingers data.

Disclaimer – Numbers can be deceptive. The quality of league has an impact on statistics as well as other factors like system, team quality, confidence, etc

 

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