We have been crying out for a defensive midfielder for years now, with our frailty in midfield repeatedly proving to be our downfall. And with our transfer policy undergoing a massive transformation, many believed we would finally see the problem position addressed this window.
I don’t believe however, that Arsene Wenger ever had any intention of bringing a defensive midfielder to the club this January; at least not an established player ready to slot straight into the first team.
Krystian Bielik was brought in from Legia Warsaw, but the 17-year-old is surely one for the future. He looks to be a supremely talented youngster, but it’s difficult to see a player of his experience performing adequately in a role that requires exactly that.
So why exactly would Wenger once again ignore our need for a defensive midfielder?
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There are two main reasons, with the first being the Frenchman’s hatred of the January transfer window. Wenger is constantly on the lookout for a bargain, and clubs are unlikely to want to sell their best players cheaply in the middle of the season. The boss has proved in recent times that he is willing to splash the cash if he believes it totally necessary, but if he can wait until the summer to secure his targets cheaper then he is likely to do so.
We may not have the dominant destroyer we need to anchor the midfield, but we certainly have options in the position. With Bielik supplementing the likes of Francis Coquelin, Mathieu Flamini, and Mikel Arteta once he returns from injury, Wenger will be confident of fighting our way through to the end of the season.
The second reason, and in my opinion the main one, is Francis Coquelin. The Frenchman’s resurgence has significantly lessened our need for a new defensive midfielder, with his recent performances suggesting he could even be the solution to our problem. Whether he proves to be the long term solution or not however, Arsene Wenger’s hesitation in the market is down to his compatriot.
The 23-year-old looked to be on his way out of the club, and has regularly found himself either farmed out on loan, or rotting in the reserves or on the bench. He will be keen to avoid returning to that state, and will want some assurances over his playing time.
With his current deal set to expire at the end of the season, Wenger will want to keep him sweet. To lose a player who has been with us for so long and is finally starting to show dividends would be a tragedy, so it’s vitally important we tie him down to a new contract.
The manager has claimed that while a deal is close, it is yet to be finalised. I can’t see any agreement being reached until the close of the window however, with Coquelin waiting to see whether any further competition will arrive before putting pen to paper.
I am confident that the midfielder will sign an extension this season, and hopefully he can continue his excellent form throughout the tail end of the campaign. We are still likely to need reinforcements next summer though, with Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin the ideal candidate in my eyes.