10 Reasons why Amadou Onana is the right midfielder for Arteta and Arsenal


Perfect fit

Arsenal unsurprisingly have been linked with numerous central midfielders since narrowly missing out on the Premier League. For a while, there seemed to be a debate on whether the target to improve the first 11 should be a left sided 8, now Havertz has moved further forward, or a defensive midfielder now that Rice has moved into the slot vacated by the German. For a while, many supporters, myself included favoured the option of Arsenal investing in a world class left 8, to allow Rice to revert to his early season 6 role. However, having seen the effectiveness of a freer Declan, my thoughts have changed somewhat.

If, as we are led to believe, Partey is to leave this summer, then my current is that we buy another Declan Rice who can operate in either role. Having watched our record signing, along with his skipper, Odegaard, elevate this Arsenal team, I am convinced that the combination of height, strength, ball carrying and a football brain, to complement the master is the way forward. It is what we saw on the run in, with Partey preferred to Jorginho, so we know it is what Arteta favours, yet was deprived of for most of the campaign.


Thomas Partey leaving?  (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Therefore, whilst a huge fan of Douglas Luiz, it is the potential purchase of Amadou Onana that excites me the most and here are 10 reasons why ……

  • Correct age profile – Turning 23 at the start of the new season the Everton player fits the age profile sought by Arteta and Edu. The player has experience having broken through at a young age but still can learn under Mikel’s tutelage, with his prime year to be spent in an Arsenal shirt.
  • Premier League ready – Onana has 3-years of experience in this unforgiving league, which Zubamendi, for example, does not have. Hitting the ground running, when City have been slow starters for the past few seasons, will be critical.
  • Aerial dominance in midfield – Onana is simply a beast in the air and when playing at 6, in front of our central defence will relieve pressure.
  • Offensive aerial dominance – The Belgian is magnificent attacking the ball from set pieces and with Nicholas Jover assuring our continued invention from corner sand freekicks, this can only be a huge plus. More so, as we have lost Rice as a threat since he took over left sided corners from Martinelli.
Declan Rice

Rice partner

  • Ball carrying – Like Rice, Onana is a magnificent and strong ball carrier. This ability which we have witnessed with Rice, as we did 20 years ago with Vieira, can quickly relieve pressure and turn defence into attack.
  • Aggressive and front-footed – Equally happy to win the ball in a tackle or to intercept, he is will swiftly transition with his head up. Something that Rice learned quickly is essential in an Arteta team.
  • Passing – Whilst not quite at Rice 90% pass completion levels, Onana was at 85% in the Premier League in 23/24. When you consider he was playing in a struggling team, with considerably less intelligent movement than he would have at Arsenal, this level is none to shabby. He also averages 2 telling long passes per match, very similar to Rice.
  • Tactical flexibility – A huge plus for Arteta in pairing Onana and Rice is the tactical options it allows. Onana can operate as a sole pivot in the current 4123, he can interchange with Rice in game, or in certain matches he and Rice and play as a partnership in a 4231. Certainly, in the second option, if it is Onana further forward, or carrying the ball into attack, we know Rice will drop and sit, such is his intelligence and flexibility. With the size and athleticism of both players, it is hard not to think of Paddy and Gilberto.

Vieira and Gilberto dominance

  • Freedom at fullback – With such promised midfield dominance, it should free the left back position, or indeed the right back on occasions, from needing to step into midfield. As we saw in the latter part of last season, the ‘Zinchenko’ role has been required less and Onana with Rice might make it redundant, freeing the left back to support Martinelli/Trossard more.
  • The price is right – Whilst has been touted at £70/80 million, despite the length remaining on his current deal, we all know Everton must sell, to stay with FFP parameters. Consequently, if the player is keen, which I strongly suspect he would be, then a deal closer to £50/60m might be possible, which would fit Arsenal’s budget, whilst leaving money free to strengthen elsewhere.

Amadou Onana Belgium 2022

In short, I would be very excited if Amadou Onana is an Arsenal player, pre or post Euros, and I will be watching him closely for Belgium. Agree or disagree?

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2 Responses to 10 Reasons why Amadou Onana is the right midfielder for Arteta and Arsenal

  1. Paul June 4, 2024 at 10:50 pm #

    Not overly sold but can see the physical benefits. Just would prefer a controller if we want to go back deeper in the CL. Unless we go the Liverpool way and press like crazy when they got to finals.

  2. Bertie Mee June 8, 2024 at 4:17 pm #

    Very good analysis Dave.
    I’ve discussed him with a number of Everton supporters and they all felt his level dropped off significantly towards the end of last season. I’m also not sure if he has the ball skill of the very best midfielders but he is hugely powerful. If we let Partey, Elneny , Lokonga and Smith Rowe and/or Vieira leave we may need two midfielders . I prefer Fofana but maybe we might look at enlisting Fofana and Onana

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