If the launch of Arsenal’s new Puma kit wasn’t enough to keep the fire burning following Alexis Sanchez’s signing announcement on Thursday night, the club can now welcome back three German World Cup winners in Mesut Ozil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski.
The positivity around the club has soared over the past few days, but it’s the world-wide rebranding that is notable. Arsenal are major players in the market and house one of Europe’s most gifted midfielders. Throw in the recently won FA Cup, and the club are an entirely different proposition for players around the globe. Arsenal needn’t solely rely on Arsene Wenger’s powers of convincing to potential signings.
But fresh off a fantastic weekend for the club, the new week has started with reports out of Spain that Sami Khedira is on his way to north London for a fee of £23 million from Real Madrid.
If ever there was a time for Wenger and the club to confirm their no-nonsense attitude to building a legitimate title challenging team, this is it. Sami Khedira may not have played in the final against Argentina due to injury, but there can be no mistaking his credentials as one of the Europe’s best box-to-box midfielders.
Real Madrid are notorious for undervaluing their players, no matter how good they are or can be. Khedira never received an extension to his first contract with the club, signed after the 2010 World Cup, in which the then-Stuttgart midfielder replaced injured captain Michael Ballack in the Germany squad. Even though Arsenal could in theory get away with paying less for the want-away Khedira – whose agent is reportedly uninterested in making contact with Real – £23 million, in today’s market, is a great price for one of the game’s leading midfielders.
And let’s do away with the nonsense that Khedira isn’t really what Arsenal need – he is. We may not be able to contain him in the description of defensive midfielder, but he does that and so much more. Neither Arturo Vidal nor Paul Pogba are out-and-out defensive midfielders, but they’d be warmly welcomed at the Emirates. It speaks of the modern footballer, with players taking on far more than one role in an ever-shifting tactical setup.
Khedira may not tick the right boxes for some Arsenal fans, but this is the type of player that helps you win titles. The German’s industry is fantastic, typifying the all-action midfielder. He’s a valuable asset to have in the dressing room too, part of the reason why Joachim Low held no reservation in selecting Khedira for his World Cup squad. Here’s the bonus: Khedira played very little football between November and the end of last season, but still had an excellent World Cup when selected.
The likelihood is Wenger sees a midfield partnership of Khedira and Aaron Ramsey, with both being similar players in their work rate and desire to get forward. Ramsey was a vital component of Arsenal’s game in the first half of last season, just as much defensively as in attack. Khedira could help take some of the weight off Ramsey, and while the German isn’t the free-scoring, creative dynamo the Welshman has become, he still charges forward with plenty of enthusiasm during games, without ever denting the responsibilities he has in his own half.
Khedira will allow Arsenal to effectively press opposition teams high up the pitch, as well as offering a much more notable presence in the midfield over Mikel Arteta, who, despite performing valiantly in the pivot role, doesn’t offer the strength many fans are clamouring for.
Let’s not forget that it wasn’t too long ago that Arsenal were said to be looking at players like Mohamed Diame to fill their defensive midfield requirements. Now they’re onto a World Cup winner who recently added the Champions League to his La Liga and Copa del Rey winner’s medals. This is the real deal for Arsenal, a world-class midfielder in the prime of his career with all the experience of having won major honours.
Even if Khedira can’t be labelled with the preferred tag, he would nevertheless represent another bold statement, both on and off the pitch.