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Luiz Gustavo | Arsenal midfield’s Missing Player?

Luiz Gustavo looks to set to leave European Champions Bayern Munich and become Arsenal’s first senior signing of the summer after a £17.2m bid was accepted. Is the Brazilian midfielder the missing link for Arsenal to enter the title race?


With the arrival of Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich and a change of system to 4-1-4-1 from the 4-2-3-1 with two defensive midfielders,  Luiz Gustavo always looked to be the inevitable departure from an over-bloated midfield this summer.

Adding Thiago Alcantara in midfield, who moved to Bayern to get more first team football, as well as club legend Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez, who Guardiola wanted to sign in his year at Barcelona, it looked unlikely Gustavo would feature much. This is his main reasoning for a move as the player wants first team football to ensure he doesn’t lose his place in the Brazil XI before the World Cup next year.

Since the departure of Gilberto Silva 5 years ago, the Arsenal midfield has been missing a defensive enforcer. Last season, Mikel Arteta filled the role as the deep midfielder and despite managing to perform adequately (his positional awareness helped him make 101 interceptions), it has cost Arsenal in big games – they only managed to get 2 points from the other 3 teams in that finished in the top 4 last season.

Luiz Gustavo would be the perfect signing for Arsenal. The Brazilian offers a defensive presence in midfield, is comfortable in possession, and his versatility allows him to operate at centre back or left back if injuries become a problem for Arsenal’s backline. He can also pitch in with a couple goals every season – he managed 4 last season for Munich, 3 of which came from outside of the 18 yard box.

The midfielder has won everything available at Bayern Munich and would add a winning mentality to Arsenal as they battle to end their long wait for a trophy. But more importantly, Gustavo will add that much needed steel in midfield which resulted in him collecting 6 bookings last season, more than any other Bayern player, due to his tough style of tackling.

The passing style has been constant within Arsenal’s play since the arrival of Arsene Wenger. The Gunners attempted and completed the most passes in the league last season. Gustavo, despite being an unorthodox Brazilian midfielder due to his development in Germany, had a very good pass completion at Bayern Munich last season with 89%.

The percentage of his passes that travelled forward were only slightly higher than those that went backwards, which may make Gustavo seem cautious and defensive to certain fans; yet in reality it just proves he has the intelligence of playing in a team that dominates possession and would have rather keep the ball than needlessly give it to the opposition.  The player himself has mentioned beforehand that he prefers to keep things simple and effective.

In terms of tackling Gustavo attempted an astonishing 81 tackles in 16 starts and 10 substitute appearances – by appearance that works out to 2.9 every game however if you were to divide by minutes it would be an even better number. According to ESPN Gustavo played 1411 minutes in the league therefore he attempted a tackle every 17.4 minutes. He also managed 44 interceptions in this time, one every 32 minutes, proving he could be the missing link in that Arsenal midfield.

Whilst other areas of the pitch still need to be improved by Wenger for a title challenge to be a more realistic target this year, the signing of Gustavo would fill the void that has been missing for years at Arsenal and will no doubt improve the team.

Stats via WhoScored.com

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