Much has been made about Arsenal’s lack of a defensive midfield signing, even with the emergence of Francis Coquelin as a Premier League star. The tabloids and back-pages are concentrating on players like Morgan Schneiderlin, Victor Wanyama and William Carvalho.
I’m going to be a bit more intelligent and not look at any ‘poster boy’ replacements for Coquelin, but players who could come to Arsenal and grow alongside Coquelin. A player who’ll come in and with their recognised talent, push Coquelin and make sure one or both make the spot their own. See the Squawka.com player comparison below for a quick look at each player.
Julian Weigl – Dortmund, age 20
The young German was the second youngest captain ever, of his previous club 1860 Munich and is a current Germany Under-21 player. Having only transferred to Borussia Dortmund this summer, perhaps it’s a little too early to be speaking of a move to the Premier League yet. Averaging two tackles and interceptions a game whilst only conceding a little over 1.5 fouls a game, he fully deserves his Whoscored.com rating of 7.29 over his 8 game Bundesliga season. Given the impressive start he’s made in this red-hot Dortmund side under Thomas Tuchel’s watchful eye, it may take a decent sum of money for Der BVB to part ways with him.
Pascal Groß – FC Ingolstadt 04, age 24
A more centre-orientated midfielder, I’ve included him in this list as my personal choice for the ‘ball-playing’ defensive midfielder that a lot of popular media say Coquelin can’t be. Averaging just under 2 tackles and interceptions a game and already a goal and 2 assists registered, the Ingolstadt number 10 has shown he can mix it at both ends of the pitch. With the newly promoted Ingolstadt FC sitting a lofty 6th in the Bundesliga, they may be more willing to cash-in on Groß in order to strengthen their squad to ensure survival in Germany’s top-flight.
Yacouba Sylla – Rennes, age 24
A Malian tackling machine, very much in the mould of a Cheikhou Kouyate and Alex Song love-child. A player often linked with mid-table sides, his numbers this season have pushed him further up my list of potential Arsenal candidates. Averaging 3.5 tackles a game and just under 2 interceptions – he’s been busy this season and it’s his industry at the back that’s helped Rennes to be unbeaten in their last 6 games. Arsene Wenger could do worse than to pick him up from Rennes, who’ve also had a hand in other Gunner’s development like Petr Cech and Sylvain Wiltord (Kallstrom & Silvestre as well, but I don’t like to remember them).
Johannes Geis – Schalke, age 22
Last, but not least we come to the base of 3rd place Schalke’s midfield. A €12 million addition in the summer, it’s not insulting to the rest of the team to say he’s had a big part to play in Schalke’s 5 wins out of 8 so far. Averaging just under 2 tackles, interceptions and clearances a game, he’s a tidy footballer who is happy sitting deeper or patrolling the centre. Two assists so far also speak of someone who can can strike a ball (he’s a dead-ball specialist) he may just fit easily into Arsenal’s style whilst maintaining his discipline.