An overview of Arsenal Transfer Rumours, Team Tactics and structure as Arsenal wish to strengthen their squad in lieu of Champions League football.
Marc Cucurella links to City make Zinchenko to Arsenal all the more likely. They’re both incredibly similar players. The only difference is Zinchenko can play as an #8 whereas Cucurella can’t. Cucurella’s advantage over Zinchenko is ground power and defensive duels. Something Man City needs since Mendy is no more.
I reckon Arteta mostly wants Zinchenko as an aggressive #8. He’s quite good on the ball but doesn’t assure on the defensive side. Can’t see Arsenal going for both Zinchenko & Hickey though.
Tactical intent is everything. Once the players have the quality required to match what the tactics entail, the team goes boom. Analyzing tactical intent combined with other factors such as talent ID, man management, etc is why I’m exited in projects like that of Arteta, Xavi, Ten Hag’s etc.
All teams have dreams like that, but turning a project into reality is not easy. Planning, strategizing, buying the right players and making them happen on and off the pitch. Make a strong team to win the champions league. Mentality, luck, consistency and squad depth are key factors.
Although the masses may not realize it, Arsenal’s best possible XI under Arteta is sensational. What the team needs this summer is strength in depth, but not in the traditional sense of signing back up players. The very best teams have two top players for each position.
That level of depth is what Arsenal need. On paper, the first XI is arguably only lacking in terms of top quality at #8 because Xhaka isn’t suited to playing in an advanced role. As such, that becomes the biggest priority – to fill a void in the first XI. Tielemans fits the bill.
Tielemans is an #8 in the mold of a Thiago Alcântara or an İlkay Gündoğan, and that’s exactly what Arteta’s 4-3-3 requires. An #8 who is comfortable & excels in all phases of play i.e. build-up, 2nd phase based for passing + presence in midfield, comfortable combining/creating.
Youri Tielemans ticks all of the required boxes based on sheer quality and suitability profile-wise, so he’s a no-brainer in that sense, particularly at a cut-price deal with his contract running out this time next year. The only question with him lies in relation to his attitude.
Crucially, William Saliba coming back from loan ensures Arsenal have sufficient technical depth to rotate with Ben White & Gabriel because this in particular was an area in which crippled Arsenal last season with Holding’s limitations.
William Saliba is comfortable playing at both RCB and LCB so it is literally like a new signing if Arteta can convince him to stay at the club. One of the biggest priorities Arsenal should have this summer is to tie William Saliba down on a new long-term deal because he’s a special talent.
Should William Saliba stay, Tomiyasu can then fill in as the fourth choice centre back to ensure the technical quality remains in central defence. However, technical depth is still an issue in Arsenal’s defence with the likes of Tavares, Cedric & Leno in reserve which must be addressed.
Tavares has proven to be incredibly raw and could do with time out of the spotlight. Tierney is also incredibly injury prone. As such, the most crucial area of concern for Arteta to address is at left back. Arsenal need first team quality there, & that’s exactly what Zinchenko is.
Zincheko is an elite technician who’s brave to receive possession under a high press but also mentally strong enough to remain patient and use his technical quality, flexible turning radius, and composure to pick out passes to play out of a high press. He’s a *TOP* player.
The thing about Zinchenko is he also fits the psychological culture Arteta has created at the club. He’s a determined, aggressive & vocal character who leads by example on and off the pitch. His technical excellence is exemplified by his quality showcased under Pep at Man City.
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The likes of Nicolas Pépé, Lacazette, Torreira and Bellerin are all big earners and will likely be leaving the club this summer. In fact, with Saliba coming back and Zinchenko/Tielemans joining the club (hypothetically), Arsenal would easily be saving money on wages, even with a new Centre forward.
And that’s where Gabriel Jesus comes into play. Gabriel Jesus is special because he has an incredible work rate and a relentless mentality to attack the box, to win, and to press. He can also effectively play as a #9, a right winger, and a left winger! You name it, Jesus does it.
Jesus’ only flaw is his inconsistent and lack of top quality ball-striking but he’s exceptional at every other aspect of forward play. He’s an exceptional athlete with phenomenal determination in his game which will make Arsenal far more dangerous from crosses, in transition, etc.
For £50m odd, Jesus is a no-brainer, particularly considering Arsenal have also tied down their other star centre forward. Arsenal tying Nketiah down is also *MASSIVE* for the club. People may laugh, but the masses don’t realize how good Nketiah is. He is a *COMPLETE* forward.
Nketiah works his socks off whilst being a sensational athlete, a focal point to link play and combine thanks to his technical quality in tandem with his physicality, and a superb box presence who has an abnormal leap, top ball-striking on either foot, arrogance, and aggression.
Nketiah is top class in transition to get the team up the pitch but also to increase the teams counter-attacking threat. He’s a better focal point than Jesus as the latter prefers to primarily run in behind & isn’t as technically proficient as Nketiah. Both also press amazingly.
Something Arsenal haven’t had for years is a focal point or an intense pressing forward to make them a transitional threat, whether that be on the counter with Martinelli & Saka running beyond them, holding the ball up, getting them team up the pitch by pressing/being an outlet.
That’s what both Nketiah and Jesus offer the team. Thing is, I think Nketiah is so good that he’ll be undroppable for Arteta next season. He will be the main centre forward. People will say Jesus won’t sign to be a rotational option, but he’ll still start most of the games.
Arsenal are playing in the Europa League next season. The squad wasn’t even big enough to make it through a campaign without European football, let alone with it. Jesus is the primary cover for three positions. He’ll start most of Arsenal’s games, there’s no doubt there.
So, all in all, this is where Arsenal are at. With Jesus (£50m), Zinchenko (£30m), Tielemans (£25m) and Saliba joining, the expenditure sits at £105m (excluding getting Bellerin/Laca/Pépé/Torreira off the books). The squad itself looks looks good, but there’s still depth issues.
However, that’s not a problem, as Arsenal are rumoured to be willing to spend in the region of £150m, even without Champions League football. As such, there’s £45m remaining to spend, and it’s clear where that money should go. Arsenal need depth at #6, right back, & in goal.
Lokonga has quality and could potentially be an option to fill in for Partey next season when he inevitably gets injured, but few players in world football can play the #6 role to a top standard. Boubacar Kamara would’ve been a nice option as a free, but that’s gone now.
Someone like Romeu from Southampton would be a great player to have because he’s capable of playing the role to a decent standard, but the likelihood is Lokonga and Elneny will be kept to play the role because finding a starting #6 to do it is hard enough, let alone a back up #6.
Further back, the drop off in quality between Tomiyasu & Cedric is large, just as it is when Ramsdale isn’t available and Leno has to step in. Cedric lacks dynamism and technical quality + when going forwards whilst also being poor physically. Leno is also technically insecure.
The problem for Arsenal is there is a dearth in quality at right back & it’s difficult to find a technically proficient back up in goal. Clubs often resort to players at the end of their career such as Caballero/Bravo as a result of the lack of solutions available in the market.
However, Arsenal’s scouting team should be able to find at least one viable option for one of the three positions with links to A. Hickey suggesting he could be a potential solution for the right back spot. However, overall, the priorities are clear & that’s at #8, CF, CB, & LB.
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