Mikel Arteta has confirmed Arsenal are on the lookout for a new midfielder before the transfer window closes. Here we look at why the position is now a priority for the Gunners…
What Arteta said…
Arteta spoke about his desire for a new midfielder to join his squad ahead of his side’s FA Cup fourth-round tie with Manchester City on Friday.
He revealed he wants further cover in the midfield area because of a fresh injury concern for Mohamed Elneny.
The Egyptian midfielder was not named in Arsenal’s matchday squad for the 3-2 win over Manchester United, with the Gunners recently linked with a move for Brighton’s Moises Caicedo and Everton’s Amadou Onana.
Speaking about Elneny’s injury, Arteta said: “There are concerns. Mo is a player who never complains about anything but let’s see.
“We need some more cover in midfield, ideally, if we can. But this market is complicated. But as I always say, the most important thing is we get the performances and the time on the pitch with the players we already have on the pitches are really good.”
‘Midfield now a priority for Arsenal’
Sky Sports News reporter Dharmesh Sheth told the Transfer Show:
“Midfield is one of Arsenal’s priority positions, it just depends whether they do it now or wait until the summer but a big signing in this window is unlikely.
“I just wonder if they’ll go into the loan market for a midfielder just to tie them over until the summer.
“At the moment, there is a slight problem with Elneny who is one of the players who would back up the three they’ve been playing all season in Granit Xhaka, Martin Odegaard and Thomas Partey, but he has a knee issue that is being assessed.
“It is clear that Arsenal want to try to do some business in the next six days but it won’t be easy as who will now want to sell? Maybe they’ll explore the loan market to bring in the numbers.
“Arsenal will want to make their bench a lot stronger just to strengthen the back-up they’ve got in midfield.
“There is definitely an interest in Declan Rice but West Ham wouldn’t contemplate letting him go in the next six days but come the summer, he will be one of the names being talked about.
“It would be nigh-on impossible for him to move now but come the summer, Rice will have two years left on his West Ham contract. I feel that’s when Arsenal will make a move for him.”
‘Injury to Elneny has changed the thinking at Arsenal’
The Athletic football correspondent David Ornstein on Back Pages Tonight on Sky Sports News:
“The fear among Arsenal fans, and everyone at the club as well, is what happens if there is an injury to Thomas Partey? In recent times, in terms of his injury record at Arsenal, it has been much improved, and that will be to massive relief.
“Granit Xhaka has also been durable as well. Albert Sambi Lokonga hasn’t done so well when he’s come in so the feeling at the club was they were sufficient with Elneny there and he would provide them with the cover to kick on in the transfer market with attacking players.
“Hence the move for Mudryk, which eventually became Leandro Trossard. They also brought in Jakub Kiwior from Spezia in Italy and there are some suggestions that even though he is a left-sided defender, he can go into midfield if needed.
“But the injury to Elneny has clearly changed the thinking at Arsenal.
“We actually saw similar at the end of the summer window when they had been pursuing a wide attacker throughout the summer. It ended up being Pedro Neto as the top target and they had considered Raphinha and others previously, but when it emerged that those deals would be too difficult and expensive, they switched their focus to a holding midfielder.
“Douglas Luiz of Aston Villa was the target, and they didn’t manage to do it. They pushed quite hard on Deadline Day, and it seems they have pivoted again this time around now they have back-up in attack.
“It is now the midfield area that they are focusing on, and it will be very interesting to see whether they are going to spend heavily or whether they take a loan and invest heavily in the summer.”
Why Arsenal can’t wait
Sky Sports’ Nick Wright:
One of the most important factors behind Arsenal’s success this season is that they have been able to keep Partey fit. The Ghanaian was sorely missed during his periods on the sidelines last term and Arsenal’s record with and without him proves it.
In fact, factor in the current campaign as well and Arsenal’s win rate stands at 75 per cent in the games he has started compared to just 56 per cent in the ones he has missed.
The gulf in quality between him and his deputies, Mohamed Elneny and Albert Sambi Lokonga, is simply too large and the Egyptian’s injury exposes Arsenal’s lack of depth even more glaringly.
Waiting until the summer, when the club hope to recruit Declan Rice from West Ham, is now even riskier than it was and that means action is required before the end of January window.
Arsenal’s schedule has been relatively kind since Christmas, but it ramps up with a run of four Premier League games in 14 days at the start of February, and that’s followed by the resumption of their Europa League campaign in March.
Partey’s load will need to be managed in order to minimize the risk of injury and that will only be possible if Mikel Arteta is granted his wish for a viable alternative in the 29-year-old’s position.
Arsenal’s recruitment in recent years has centered on the long-term but right now, top of the Premier League and with the added burden of European commitments to come, a short-term solution is needed.
Could Caicedo be a target for Arsenal?
A report in the Daily Telegraph has suggested the Gunners are considering a £75m move for Caicedo and could once again go head-to-head with Chelsea in the transfer market as the race intensifies for the Brighton midfielder.
With five days to go until the window closes, Sky Sports News understands Chelsea are still pushing to sign Caicedo.
However, Brighton’s stance is that Caicedo is not for sale as the club set their sights on trying to secure European football this season and reports suggest they have placed a valuation of £100m on Caicedo after the Blues’ latest attempt to raid the south- coast club.
So, if Arsenal or Chelsea were trying to lure the Ecuador international, who has two-and-a-half-years left on his deal at Brighton, to the Emirates Stadium, it could prove to be a difficult deal to get done with five days left of the transfer window.
Why Caicedo is in demand
Sky Sports’ Adam Smith:
The radar graphic below compares the 21-year-old with all central midfielders in Europe’s top leagues this season and reveals his primary strengths include general distribution, creating chances and winning duels.
Caicedo also provides box-to-box qualities from a typical No 6 role, patrolling the left-of-center in defensive and opposition halves in almost equal measure.
The Ecuadorian has attempted only two shots from inside the box in the Premier League this term and is far more inclined to strike from outside the box – hitting the target three times from 10 long-range attempts.
In terms of creating chances, Caicedo frequently penetrates opposition lines with threaded passes in central areas but has also found team-mates from wide areas.
The graphic below highlights how Caicedo’s passes are primarily made down the central and left-hand thirds and underlines his box-to-box influence, while the passing direction radar reveals an impressive accuracy and progressive vision – with barely any passes angled back to his own goal.
The Brighton midfielder is also cool under pressure, with only two team-mates recording a better ball-retention rate when being hunted down by opposition players, and is also the key component in Brighton’s tradition phases, according to Second Spectrum data.
At just 21 years of age, Caceido also offers a long-term solution and investment and would drop the Gunners’ league-low average age even lower. Indeed, the Ecuadorian has collected 28 senior caps for his nation and starred at the World Cup in Qatar.
Some may baulk at the proposed fee, but Caicedo provides serious midfield mettle and scope for development, while his remaining deal at the AMEX, a soaring transfer market and growing competition for transfer targets nudges prices ever higher.
Clubs face a ‘steep task’ to prize Caicedo away from Brighton
The Athletic football correspondent David Ornstein on Back Pages Tonight on Sky Sports News:
“Caicedo is a player like Arsenal, the same as Chelsea.
“We’ve seen that Chelsea had a £55m bid rejected last week. There has been reported interest from Liverpool and others, but Brighton have been steadfast in their view that the player is not going anywhere in this transfer window, and it would take a hell of a lot more than Chelsea’s £55m bid to even tempt them to consider selling him.
“So, if £75m is the area Arsenal are looking to go to that is higher than their rivals. They have money, clearly, given that they went in even higher for Mykhailo Mudryk, who ended up moving from Shakhtar Donetsk to Chelsea.
“However, I would hazard a guess that Caicedo will stay at Brighton in this particular window. I just don’t see clubs going to the level of expenditure it will take for Brighton to part with him. He’s also under a long-term contract .
“Caicedo has changed agents and that representation will most likely see him edge to a possible move away from the Amex Stadium at some point, whether in January or in the summer. But I think it would be unlikely at this stage that Arsenal would manage to pull it off.
“Although, the Gunners do want to invest or recruit in their midfield, whether it be a permanent or a loan deal given it seems Mohamed Elneny has suffered an injury setback in training. Certainly, in the last days of this window, the midfield area is one to watch.
“There were reports that Brighton want £100m to part with Caicedo, so that’s the steepness of the task at hand for Arsenal.”
Follow the January transfer window with Sky Sports
Who will be on the move this winter? The January transfer window opened on Sunday January 1, 2023 and closes at 11pm in England and midnight in Scotland hon Tuesday January 31, 2023.
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