We’ve recently been linked heavily with Borussia Monchengladbach’s highly rated midfielder Granit Xhaka, and the links have intensified with Sky Sports Germany reporting that Arsene Wenger has agreed to match the £34m price tag on his head.
Xhaka has been tipped to make a move away from Gladbach for quite a while, and the links to Arsenal resurfaced when German publication RP reported that Wenger had met with the player’s father and agent to discuss a potential deal.
At that point the rumours were still being taken with a pinch of salt, but now that the story has been picked up by Sky things are starting to heat up. Sky Sports are notoriously reliable, and although it can’t be taken as gospel, Sky tend not to report transfer rumours unless they have come from a reliable source or been substantiated somehow.
Wenger is known to be a fan of Xhaka, and with Sky reporting a fee has been agreed it seems the Frenchman may well get his man.
It seems very likely that the 23-year-old will jump at the chance to make the switch to north London, as he’s spoken before of his desire to play in the Premier League. He insists moving to England is a dream of his (via Sky Sports), which should certainly help speed things up.
As the move becomes more and more likely, we should be asking whether he’s what we really need. He’s certainly a fantastic player, but where would he fit in?
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The Swiss international shares a number of traits with several of the players we already have at our disposal, but is different to all of them. The player you might compare him to most is a young Mikel Arteta, although Xhaka is arguably far, far better.
He has a phenomenal passing range, able to start attacks from deep and play defence splitting passes and often Mesut Özil-esque through balls. He also excels at retaining possession, which is something we’ve really missed in Santi Cazorla’s absence. His tackling and defensive work-rate has improved as he’s matured, but he can’t be relied upon too heavily to do the dirty work. One of his biggest weaknesses is probably his lack of pace, which for a central midfielder is very poor. He struggles to track back at times, and with the pace of the Premier League that could be an issue. Arteta’s main downfall has been the fact that his legs have completely gone, and that is something Wenger needs to consider.
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Xhaka is a fantastic midfielder and if he’s available it would be foolish to turn down the chance to sign him. The money could arguably be better spent elsewhere though, and if signing Xhaka means we forgo strengthening in other areas then perhaps we need to be foolish and let him go.