Four players who could replace Granit Xhaka in Arsenal’s midfield assessed

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Ruben Neves

As Football.LDN reported earlier, Arsenal are close to agreeing a deal with Roma which would see Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka leave the club and join Jose Mourinho in the Italian capital. Xhaka played 44 times across all competitions for Mikel Arteta’s side this season, forming a complementary pairing with newcomer Thomas Partey.

Clearly then, the Swiss international must be replaced before Arsenal head into the new season, which begins in the middle of August. So far, the Gunners have been heavily linked with four options, all of whom will be familiar to Premier League watchers.

Ruben Neves

Ruben Neves appears to be the front-runner to replace the outgoing Xhaka, and at 24, fits the age profiles that Arsenal are looking for to rebuild their side.

The Wolverhampton Wanderers midfielder played 36 times in the Premier League in 2020-21, although the midlands outfit suffered a disappointing campaign, finishing an underwhelming thirteenth in a season that cost their manager Nuno Espirito Santo his job.

As the above graphic shows, Neves would not be the worst replacement for Xhaka, although the Portuguese international is less dangerous with the ball at his feet, completing fewer progressive passes and at a lower percentage that his Swiss counterpart.

Where Neves excels, however, is in pressures, meaning that he defends more on the front foot than Granit Xhaka. Neves also provides more tackles and interceptions than Xhaka, although he does play in more defensively-minded side which must be accounted for.

The biggest stumbling block for Arsenal’s pursuit of the Wolves man could well be the price. Wolves are thought to value their midfielder at around £35 million, which is significantly more than Arsenal seem willing to pay.

Whether a deal can be struck remains to be seen, however, Neves would offer a competent alternative to Xhaka, albeit with a slightly different skillset.

Sander Berge

Sander Berge has been subject to much speculation already this summer due to having been relegated from the Premier League with his club Sheffield United. Linked to Manchester City before he ultimately signed for the Blades in 2020, he is thought to have a £35 million release clause in his contract.

Another point in his favour is his seemingly close friendship with compatriot Martin Odegaard, who Arsenal are supposedly keen to try and bring to the Emirates again this summer following a successful loan spell.

Berge struggled across 2020/21, injury limiting the Norweigian midfielder to just 15 Premier League appearances. At 23, he still has plenty of time to reach the potential he showed in the Belgian Pro League, but at 35 million pounds again seems a little out of Arsenal’s price range.

Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa

Another option that may be available at a cut-price due to relegation, Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, who has been linked with Arsenal this month. impressed for Fulham despite the Cottagers falling out of the Premier League.

As a consequence of their relegation, Anguissa could be a cost-effective option that the Gunners explore. The Cameroonian midfielder featured 36 times in the Premier League for Fulham last season, and would likely command a much smaller fee than either Sander Berge or Ruben Neves.

Four players who could replace Granit Xhaka in Arsenal’s midfield assessed

As can be seen above, Anguissa is a different player to Xhaka. The Fulham man finds himself involved more around the box, though whether that is his natural game or a tactical specification is unknown. Although he is less involved in any build-up, he may be more the sort of player that Mikel Arteta is looking for.

Yves Bissouma

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Perhaps one of the biggest and most exciting rumours for Arsenal fans has been the club weighing up making a move for Yves Bissouma, who currently plies his trade for Brighton and Hove Albion.

Although no concrete reports of bids being made for the Malian international, it is rumoured that Bissouma himself is keen on a move to North London. He has featured 36 times in the Premier League for Brighton, and has thoroughly impressed watchers of the Premier League.

The rumoured £40 million price tag may deter Arsenal, but Bissouma’s desire to join the club could well help them force the move through for a lower fee. The midfielder is close with both Nicolas Pepe and Gabriel from their time together at Lille, and seems keen to rejoin them in North London.

Out of these four midfielders, it is quite possible that Arsenal end up moving for more than one. Along with Granit Xhaka leaving, Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi may also depart the club this summer, whilst Dani Ceballos’ loan has expired and he has now returned to Real Madrid.

This may leave Arsenal with just Thomas Partey and Mohammed Elneny as recognised senior central midfielders, both of whom will be leaving the club for the African Cup of Nations midway through the season.

The result of this is that Arsenal realistically need two or more midfielders this summer if they want to be able to compete across multiple fronts domestically.

Who they go for, however, remains to be seen.

Read more:

“No, no offers” Sheffield United reject that Arsenal have made a bid for Sander Berge

What Arsenal’s midfield could look like if they sign Ruben Neves

This article was edited by
Josh Barker.

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Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 Manchester City FC 38 51 86
2 Manchester United FC 38 29 74
3 Liverpool FC 38 26 69
4 Chelsea FC 38 22 67
5 Leicester City FC 38 18 66
6 West Ham United FC 38 15 65
7 Tottenham Hotspur FC 38 23 62
8 Arsenal FC 38 16 61
9 Leeds United 38 8 59
10 Everton FC 38 -1 59
11 Aston Villa FC 38 9 55
12 Newcastle United FC 38 -16 45
13 Wolverhampton Wanderers FC 38 -16 45
14 Crystal Palace FC 38 -25 44
15 Southampton FC 38 -21 43
16 Brighton & Hove Albion FC 38 -6 41
17 Burnley FC 38 -22 39
18 Fulham FC 38 -26 28
19 West Bromwich Albion 38 -41 26
20 Sheffield United FC 38 -43 23
Player Team Goals
Kane, Harry Tottenham Hotspur FC 23
Salah, Mohamed Liverpool FC 22
Fernandes, Bruno Manchester United FC 17
Son, Heung Min Tottenham Hotspur FC 17
Bamford, Patrick Leeds United 17
Calvert-Lewin, Dominic Everton FC 16
Vardy, Jamie Leicester City FC 15
Watkins, Ollie Aston Villa FC 14
Gundogan, Ilkay Manchester City FC 13
Lacazette, Alexandre Arsenal FC 13
Wilson, Callum Newcastle United FC 12
Ings, Danny Southampton FC 12
Wood, Chris Burnley FC 12
Iheanacho, Kelechi Leicester City FC 12
Rashford, Marcus Manchester United FC 11
Mane, Sadio Liverpool FC 11
Pereira, Matheus West Bromwich Albion 11
Bale, Gareth Tottenham Hotspur FC 11
Zaha, Wilfried Crystal Palace FC 11
Sterling, Raheem Manchester City FC 10

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