The transfer window is almost upon us and one club that will be interesting to watch in this market will be Arsenal.
It will be Mikel Arteta’s first summer transfer window as a head coach and with a philosophy and mentality that excites Arsenal supporters, his dealings in the market will be something to follow closely.
And so, we’ve picked out three Bundesliga players that we think will improve their current starting XI, all of which could be purchased for around £25 million each.
With reports suggesting Arsenal will not activate their 12-month extension on David Luiz’s contract, the Gunners will need a new central defender in the summer. Dayot Upamecano is a wanted man and with a €60 million release clause and one-year remaining on his current deal, the RB Leipzig defender is courting the interest of several elite European clubs. But with such a high price and given the financial effect that the Covid-19 pandemic has on clubs, paying such a fee just isn’t an option this summer.
But Mikel Arteta and his recruitment staff would be wise to look at another Frenchman plying his trade in the Bundesliga. Eintracht Frankfurt’s 20-year-old defender Evan N’Dicka has impressed since his move from Auxerre in 2018. With 59 Bundesliga games under his belt, the France youth international trumps Luiz in all but two parameters that Arteta and his recruitment staff should be scouting for as they search for a defender that can slot in to Arsenal’s defence with ease.
N’Dicka’s base numbers are impressive with 0.7 tackles won, 1.9 aerial duels won and 4.6 duels won P90 in comparison to Luiz’s 0.5 tackles, 1.6 aerial duels and 3.3 duels P90. Frankfurt’s pressing under Adi Hutter has been relentless at times, which could be a factor in N’Dicka’s 7.3 recoveries and 1.6 interceptions P90, significantly more than Luiz. The Brazilian has more clearances P90 and has lost the ball less, but this could be because N’Dicka can also operate as a left-back and thus finding himself further forward.
With not many left-footed defenders on the market and valued at £20 million, N’Dicka would be an exceptional alternative to Upamecano and is a player who could thrive at the Emirates.
With the future of several central-midfielders at Arsenal yet to be decided, this position is an area that needs to be addressed. Granit Xhaka almost joined Hertha Berlin in January but has become an important player in Arteta’s system whilst Lucas Torreira has missed a lot of games through injury. A decision on whether they want to buy Dani Ceballos outright is yet to be made and so Arsenal need a midfielder who can provide defensive cover but also has a creative edge about him.
The parameters that we have used for this search revolve around high tackles won P90, duels won P90, interceptions and passes P90. Hoffenheim and Austria international Florian Grillitsch fits the criteria and is absolutely a player that Arsenal should be looking at.
Grillitsch has played under Julian Nagelsmann and Alfred Schreuder at Hoffenheim and can play in a pressing or possession-based system. The 24-year-old can operate in a defensive double-pivot or further forward and would therefore offer Arteta a lot of options in midfield.
Boasting impressive base stats, Grillitsch is a mix of Xhaka, Torreira, Ceballos and Matteo Guendouzi. With 1.4 tackles won P90 and 6.3 duels won P90, Grillitsch enjoys the defensive side of the game – in these categories, he’s second to just Ceballos. His 81.8 touches P90 but just 11.9 final third passes P90 suggest he sees a lot of the ball but doesn’t make too many progressive passes – a safe option and someone who retains possession well with his 88% pass completion. His 1.8 interceptions P90 showcases good positioning which puts him joint with Xhaka in this category.
Tottenham Hotspur showed interest in signing Grillitsch before Jose Mourinho took charge whilst Southampton and Newcastle United have both scouted the Austria international in 2020. According to Sport Bild, Grillitsch has a €20 million release clause in his contract for European clubs but Premier League clubs will have to pay €25m to land this midfielder. A small investment for an interesting player.
Arsenal run the risk of losing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Alexandre Lacazette this summer. The former has yet to sign a contract extension with the Premier League club whilst Lacazette has been in the headlines again for all the wrong reasons. Should either of them depart, Arsenal will need to find someone who can seamlessly fit in to Arteta’s philosophy and can make an instant impression to a demanding fan base.
Timo Werner was never an option for Arsenal whilst their interest in Bayer Leverkusen’s Kevin Volland has cooled. Looking at his base numbers, Borussia Monchengladbach forward Alassane Plea would be an excellent addition. The Frenchman can play anywhere across a front three and he’s moulding himself into a complete forward under the watchful eye of Marco Rose in Germany.
The 27-year-old has made a goal contribution every 107.5 minutes with 10 goals and 10 assists in 25(2) Bundesliga games. Although favouring a central-attacking role, Plea has often found himself operating on the left, with Marcus Thuram preferred by Rose through the middle. With 3.2 shots P90 and 1.5 on target P90, Plea is a threat around the goal. He also showcases great technical ability with 1.9 dribbles P90 and 12.7 final third passes P90, which contributes to his 18 big chances created, significantly higher than Aubameyang’s 5 and Lacazette’s 3 in the league. Despite operating mainly on the left flank, Plea averages 5.3 touches in the box and his 5.2 duels won P90 showcases his bullish physique.
Plea would be an excellent addition at Arsenal but they’ll have to move quick if they want to secure his signature with Manchester United reportedly contacting his representatives whilst Tottenham Hotspur also have an interest in signing the Frenchman. At £25 million, Plea would prove to be a bargain.