As the Arsene Wenger saga continues to dominate headlines, with former players feeling his reign at Arsenal may well be finally drawing to a close (via The Sun), I cannot help but wonder just how injecting a little more of the Brazilian style of “total football” could have transformed the team and brought home a little more silverware over the years.
It’s not that he hasn’t been tempted by some. Wenger has after all signed several. But for example last summer the club allegedly made a £40 million offer for Gabriel Barbosa only for him to join Internazionale shortly afterwards. Similarly, in 2015 the Gunners were also in talks with the 18 year old Gabriel Jesus, then playing for Palmeiras, only for him to sign for Manchester City instead for a reported transfer fee of £27 million. We all know how that has turned out recently.
Looking back at the exciting talent the South American country has produced, the likes of Neymar Jr, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Rivaldo (despite this high-profile, embarrassing incident) were never quite the type of player the Gunners would’ve been able to attract. They were just a different class. The Gunners did manage to lure Gilberto Silva to Highbury – and what a player he was!
One Brazilian player who may have been a great addition to the Arsenal line-up was the legendary Denilson. No, not the former Arsenal flop who never needed to muster the art of shaving with his pubescent features. But the now retired and a celebrity ambassador for 888poker he also has some very clear ideas about his country’s greats, all of whom could certainly have added some style and panache at Highbury or, latterly, at the Emirates.
Another classy player, renowned for his bending shots recorded to travel at up to 105 miles an hour, Roberto Carlos would surely have been on any manager’s shopping list when he was at the height of his powers.
Since Ashley Cole left, the Gunners struggled to to fill the void. Although a left back, attack was always Carlos’ default style of play and he more than earned his place in the FIFA 100 list of the best living players in the world.
Although Arsenal have had a large amount of attacking midfielders, Willian who can also play as a winger, has been a big success for Premier League-leading Chelsea. His fast and agile runs, acceleration and explosive style of play make him very difficult to mark. He’s also got a great vision for the game which helps him to create many chances for forwards as well as being a very accomplished taker of free kicks himself.
Gabriel is now the sole Brazilian in the Arsenal squad, and with South American talent ripe in most of Europe’s elite clubs – are Arsenal shopping in the wrong market?