Arsenal could sign ‘Hungarian David Beckham’, Real Madrid transfer target or Newcastle flop in January to inspire them like Bruno Fernandes at Manchester United December 14, 2020 – Posted in: Soccer
Things aren’t getting any better for Arsenal right now and that means their January transfer window might be their most important in years.
They can be a gauntlet for Premier League managers, where every decision is scrutinised intensely.
For every Papiss Cisse there is a Fernando Torres, for instance, and the inflation of the market and the limited time frame afforded to managers only serves to crank up the pressure.
Manchester United gambled big time and parted with £62million to bring Bruno Fernandes to the club at the beginning of 2020 and reaped instant benefits.
Before the Portugal international arrived at Old Trafford, United had picked up 34 points from 24 Premier League games and lost a whopping eight times.
At the end of the season, Fernandes had scored eight goals from 14 games and helped the club finish in the Champions League places.
Since his arrival, speculation about the security of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has eased somewhat, although the performances of others have let down Fernandes on occasion.
Although the Norwegian is nowhere near out of the woods yet, he is certainly sitting far more comfortably than counterpart Mikel Arteta at Arsenal.
The Spaniard has won just one of his last eight league games in charge of the Gunners, who sit in 15th place in the table and face seem more likely to fight a relegation battle instead of one for a top four spot.
So far, Arsenal have managed a miserly 10 goals from their opening 12 games in the league, with only three sides scoring fewer.
The poor form of captain and talisman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is undoubtedly a factor behind Arsenal making their worst ever start to a Premier League season.
The north Londoners have had 123 efforts at goal in 12 league games so far this season – only five teams have had fewer, and two of those have played one less game.
They are scoring at a rate of less than one goal per game. Centre-back Gabriel’s header in the defeat to Wolves is the club’s only goal from open play in eight Premier League games.
Creativity is desperately needed at the Emirates, for the sake of Arteta and the fans who will soon be filtering into the desolate stadium. But who could they sign to save their season like Fernandes at United?
Houssem Aouar (Lyon)
Throughout the entirety of the summer, it seemed as though Arsenal would make a move for the 22-year-old.
However, Arteta and the board decided to push ahead with the signing of Thomas Partey from Atletico Madrid and Aouar remained at the Groupama Stadium.
An aesthetically pleasing midfielder, the France international has exceptional dribbling skills and uses his low centre of gravity to propel his 5ft 7ins frame away from tight situations.
Although comparisons with deep lying Barcelona and Netherlands international Frenkie de Jong are apt for their playmaking style, Aouar thrives in a more attacking role further up the pitch.
In his four games played as an attacking midfielder this season, he has scored two goals and registered one assist behind central striker Memphis Depay who, like Aubameyang, drifts to the left to create opportunities for himself and space for others to attack.
Mikel Merino (Real Sociedad)
A name which some Premier League fans may remember from his ill-fated solitary season in the top flight with Newcastle back in 2017.
It is fair to say the Spaniard struggled to make an impact in England and after flitting between Osasuna, Borussia Dortmund, and Newcastle he has found himself at the Anoeta Stadium.
As a central midfielder who likes to play on the left of a three-man midfield, the 24-year-old is a box-to-box player who has added dynamism to the team and dovetails well with the guile and craft of David Silva.
Merino is at his best when facing his own goal and playing intricate one-touch passes, also providing a strong aerial presence in both boxes.
According to WhoScored.com, he is the third-highest rated player in LaLiga (7.43/10) and also averages 2.3 tackles per game.
However, he is no slouch at the other end of the pitch and has found the back of the net once already, providing two assists as Sociedad sit top after 13 games.
Fabian Ruiz (Napoli)
Carlo Ancelotti parted with €30million (£26.94m) to bring Fabian Ruiz to Napoli in 2018 and the transfer quickly proved to be an inspired move.
The 24-year-old is yet another Spanish international who may well catch the eye of compatriot Mikel Arteta and his technical ability has all the hallmarks of the classic Iberian genius.
A clever midfielder who receives the ball in pockets of space, Fabian plays on the right hand side of a three-man midfield to cut inside and provide a more direct threat on his stronger left foot. Able to change directions rapidly because of how well he receives and shields the ball, the midfielder is the fulcrum of the Napoli side.
He has a pass success rate of 91.5 per cent already in Serie A this season and averages 1.1 key passes per game. He can drop into a deeper role to dictate play, or push on into an inside right position to create space for a rampaging full-back, perfect for Hector Bellerin.
For Spain, he sometimes plays as a No.10 and the Gunners may need to be quick as Real Madrid are reportedly interested in bringing him back home.
Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma)
Another 24-year-old midfielder who is excelling in 2020 is Roma star Lorenzo Pellegrini, who reportedly attracted interest from Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain this summer.
Pellegrini has all the attributes to play as a No.6, No.8 or even in the advanced role of a No.10 – which is where he excels for Roma behind talisman Edin Dzeko.
He regularly drifts into wide channels to drag his markers away from their stations and then occupies the space to devastating effect. Already this season he has three assists in Serie A and averages 2.4 key passes per game.
Statistics do not tell the full story for the Italy international, who has an 83.2 per cent pass success rate, but is it through him that Roma play and his bold and daring passing perhaps diminishes his success rate, much like Fernandes at Man United.
Dominik Szoboszlai (Red Bull Salzburg)
Don’t worry about the name too much (pronounced so-boss-lie), he burst onto the scene immediately after Erling Haaland left Salzburg to explore pastures new. Although completely different players in terms of style, the comparable hype is justified.
At just 20, Szoboszlai already has seven goals from 16 appearances in all competitions this season and has shown incredible maturity and a high level of football intelligence.
His preferred position is somewhat blurred between a classic second striker and an inverted winger, coming in from the left on his stronger right foot to shoot.
Salzburg typically play in a 4-2-2-2, with Szoboszlai starting on the left and occasionally rotating with the strikers. However, he is comfortable playing across any of the three positions in attacking midfield, showcasing his intelligence.
He has even been gifted the nickname ‘The Hungarian Beckham’ for his unerring accuracy from free kicks; the Hungary international boasts a whopping 4.3 shots per game on average from his three Nations League appearances this season.
Although his defensive contributions admittedly need some work, the 20-year-old would be an astute signing for the Gunners and could provide a Fernandes-esque impact to spark a revival in north London to save Arteta.