Arsenal have already achieved some fantastic business this summer having secured the signing of Alexis Sanchez – further evidence of their new heavy spending policy – but it would appear that they could be set to miss out on one of their other top targets ahead of the new season.
A defensive midfielder has been at the top of their list as they see it as the missing piece of their puzzle to launch a serious title bid, and Real Madrid‘s Sami Khedira was thought to be the target identified to do that role for Arsene Wenger’s men.
However, wage demands of a reported £150k per week have scuppered those hopes, and Wenger must now look elsewhere to find the man best equipped to anchor his midfield going into the new campaign, with a move for the World Cup winner appearing dead in the water now.
With Khedira having failed to win any of his 13 contested tackles for Germany at the summer showpiece event, one wonders if he would have been the right choice for Arsenal anyway to shore up their midfield, so we at Squawka have looked at three other targets Wenger should consider as alternatives for the Champions League and World Cup winner.
The popular choice for many, with Schneiderlin having been heavily impressive in his two seasons in the Premier League since Southampton’s promotion back into the top-flight, earning himself a call into France‘s squad for the World Cup this summer, playing one game for Les Bleus.
The Saints would be loathe to lose yet another of their stars after being picked apart already and have no need to let another player go after the hefty compensation they received for the likes of Luke Shaw andAdam Lallana. However, with the midfielder reportedly keen to try his hand on a bigger stage and the Gunners willing to shell out another £20m to land the right man, they could be persuaded to do business at the right price.
Schneiderlin managed to win a tackle at the World Cup, more than Khedira can claim to have done and the Frenchman won 87 over the course of last season for Southampton, a total more than any Arsenal player managed to achieve.
The midfield anchor on the south coast also completed 68 interceptions in his 33 appearances for Mauricio Pochettino’s men last season, and his 89% passing accuracy would allow him to fit in well with Arsenal in possession as well, with 30 chances created also ensuring he can contribute to the offensive side of the Gunners too.
Lars Bender – Bayer Leverkusen
With Sven Bender happily situated with a successful and settled Borussia Dortmund side, Arsenal could perhaps opt to target the brother, with Leverkusen having hit something of a glass ceiling in the Bundesliga. Furthermore, Lars Bender is clearly capable of playing for a side truly pushing for honours.
The Leverkusen man also won 87 tackles throughout the season to allow the German outfit to cling on to that fourth place spot (familiar scenario perhaps?), but as one of the better players in the side, he needs a team capable of taking him to the next level.
Arsenal’s squad would do just that and Bender would compliment the side perfectly, making 51 interceptions in 29 appearances. He also chipped in with three goals of his own and created 20 chances.
A passing accuracy of just 77% could perhaps be improved upon, but one feels that given a more settled and cohesive side, that would come easily for Bender and allow him to prove his worth to Joachim Loew.
De Jong always seems older than he actually is with his wealth of experience at the top level, but with the Dutchman is still only 29 years of age, he still has the ability to be a major part of Wenger’s side for a few years to come.
The ex-Man City star might just have the exact fighting spirit that Arsenal need to screen their defence next season, with his tough-tackling style of play doing the dirty work to allow their more flamboyant and creative gems to do their work offensively.
The Dutch enforcer does exactly what he needs to for the team, winning back the ball and breaking up play before distributing the ball simply and letting the more technical members of the team take over.
De Jong won nine tackles and made eight interceptions at the World Cup alone this summer, while he made 55 tackles in 33 appearances for Milan, as well as a fantastic 91 interceptions to demonstrate his fantastic reading of the game.
A 91% passing accuracy will prove him pivotal to Arsenal’s midfield engine and he claimed three assists for Milan as well to show that he is capable of adding to the offensive side of the game as well, when required.