Ten years of transfer activity failed to pay dividends for Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, in the search to replace talismanic midfield enforcer Patrick Vieira. Club legend Vieira helped his side to an array of title and cup wins, and the player was a driving force behind the famous ‘Invincibles’ of the 2003-04 campaign. Wenger has attempted to fill the void with a number of recruits, all to no avail, but recent reports suggest that the Arsenal boss may finally have found the ideal man to replace the iconic Frenchman. 28 year old Chile international, Arturo Vidal, has established himself as one of the finest midfielders in world football since a 2011 move to Italian giants, Juventus, from German side, Bayer Leverkusen, and his performances for the Old Lady has seen the player become the interest of much transfer speculation over the last few seasons. With the midfielder arguably at his peak, and perhaps seeking a new challenge after 4 successive titles and an appearance in last year’s Champions League final, many of Europe’s top clubs are reported to possess an interest in the player, and if Vidal does decide to seek pastures anew, we can expect to see a monumental tug-of-war amongst Europe’s elite.
Vidal’s performances since his move to Turin have been nothing short of outstanding, with the player failing to show any weaknesses to his game over the course of his Juventus career. The Chilean has been primarily unleashed in a central role, and although billed as the box to box midfielder, Vidal has showcased talents which exceed the definition of such a player, with performances suggesting Vidal to also possess the ability to play-make, break up play, and if that wasn’t enough, 35 goals in only 110 starts highlights Vidal’s ability to find the back of the net. Last season was one of Vidal’s finest in the famous Black and White stripes despite problems with injury, with the club securing a fourth consecutive title, and a place in the Europe’s showpiece event. Vidal’s consistency extended across the entire season, with the tough tackling midfielder achieving an average WhoScored.com rating of 7.37, which includes his exceptional performances in this year’s engrossing Copa America, in which his national side won the first title in the history of the nation, all in front of their home fans on Chilean soil. 3 goals and an assist in only 6 games is another example of Vidal’s talent, with further proof that the player possesses the ability to transfer his form into different competitions, a feat that would make him an even more enticing prospect to managers outside of Serie A.
As mentioned, Arsenal has searched for a player of Vidal’s nature for a number of years, and the talented South American would add a completely new dimension to the Arsenal midfield. With existing players at the club including Englishman Jack Wilshere and Spaniard Santi Cazorla, Arsene Wenger already has a number of creative outlets in his side, and Vidal’s powerhouse approach to the game would provide the Arsenal midfield with the bite it has craved since Vieira’s departure. Combined with his goal scoring ability, Arsene Wenger would not be criticised for expecting this midfield trio to contribute a minimum of 30 league goals between them per season, a number that could finally propel them to the title which has eluded them for so many years. A number of players have auditioned for the role of Vieira over the years, including French pair, Mathieu Flamini and Abou Diaby, but neither really showed enough to suggest they were the key missing piece of the jigsaw. Diaby’s injury struggles have been well documented, and the players Emirates spell came to an end this summer when he departed on a free transfer. Flamini returned to the club after a spell in Italy with A.C. Milan, but is another player who has failed to show the ability to provide a driving run through the middle which dissects midfields, and spreads fear into the hearts of opposition defenders as they are bared down upon by a rampaging midfielder. Vidal is capable of such movement, and when such an attribute is combined with his ability to break up play, the Chilean has the potential to turn defence into attack, and spark a counter which speedsters in the mould of Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will exploit with deadly, explosive pace. Francis Coquelin is another player in which Wenger had placed so much hope, but despite an impressive campaign last time out, the Frenchman’s game does not contain the dynamism of Vidal’s; not many in world football do. Vidal would slot perfectly into the Arsenal midfield, and with the players currently at Wenger’s disposal, Vidal may be the pivotal acquisition which will draw the best out of Arsenal’s current crop.
There is no denying that Arturo Vidal is the best at what he does, so why would Juventus allow such an influential player who has led the club to unprecedented glory leave? Colleague Paul Pogba has also been linked with a move away, and it would not be foolish to make the presumption that it will be one or the other who will be allowed to leave. Having seen the legendary Andrea Pirlo end his European journey by linking up with Frank Lampard and David Villa at New York City FC, surely manager Massimo Allegri would not allow 3 of his starting 4 Champions League final starting midfielders depart the club in a single window? At the age of 28, Vidal is operating at his peak, and this summer may be Juve’s final opportunity to cash in on one of their most prized assets. With Pogba also nearing a move away for reportedly astronomical figures, Allegri may be left with over £100 million to rebuild after the exodus, and perhaps the manager is willing to take the risk in order to reshape his largely inherited squad, and lead the Italian champions into a new era. It was reported that Manchester United were interested in the Chilean last summer, but a reported knee problem saw the Old Trafford side pull out of the deal, much to the disgust of much of the United faithful. ‘Ticking time bomb’ is a term previously coined by journalists in regard to players with impending knee issues, and Louis Van Gaal chose not to take the plunge on the player for this reason. Vidal has struggled with his knee in previous seasons, but more often than not has taken to the field and performed at the highest level. Reports suggest a fee in the region of £30 million would be enough to prise the player away from the Old Lady, and in today’s inflated transfer market, such a fee would surely be considered a bargain for a player who has consistently proven to be one of the world’s best.
If Arsene Wenger is to secure a deal for Vidal, then he must not dawdle. Some reports have suggested that Real Madrid are close to agreeing a deal with the player, whereas others suggest it is the Gunners who are closer to securing a deal. The midfielder’s future is up in the air, and those who are serious about acquiring the player must move fast before they are pipped to the post by their rivals, or the player commits to his current club. If Vidal is indeed available, do not be surprised to see Manchester United once again linked to the player, with Van Gaal surely tempted to acquire the engine his midfield has craved for several years. The likes of Chelsea and even Barcelona are sure to be keeping tabs on the player, with the Copa America winner sure to be on every manager’s wish list. Wherever Vidal ends up come September 1st, there is no doubt that the player will continue his impressive form, and will add a dimension to his club’s midfield that no other player on the planet may provide.