Joel Campbell has been linked with a move to AC Milan in the event Arsenal complete a deal for Shakhtar Donetsk’s Douglas Costa, but it could actually be one of Arsenal’s established senior players who makes room for the young Brazilian.
Santi Cazorla has surprisingly been one the names linked with a move away from the Emirates this summer. Atletico Madrid were reported to be interested, though that has surely ended now following the capture of Antoine Griezmann. But Cazorla’s future nevertheless remains in doubt, especially with so much of the transfer window left.
Arsene Wenger – if the reports are to be believed – is clearly looking to take advantage of the unrest in Ukraine, with multiple Shakhtar players expressing a desire to leave the club due to the conflict in that part of the world. Douglas Costa is said to be one of the players to have gone AWOL following the Ukrainian club’s recent trip to France.
On one hand it’s very difficult to understand why Wenger would want to be rid of Cazorla at this stage in the Spaniard’s career. He has immense value, not only through his talent but also in his experience in Europe and with the Spanish national side. For now, he’s the secondary option behind Mesut Ozil for the No.10 role in the Arsenal team.
But there could be a number of factors at play here. Jack Wilshere is a talking point. The England international is yet to establish what his best position is for both club and country, and despite playing more recently in a deep-lying midfield role, it’s possible Wenger sees Wilshere as the backup to Ozil just behind the striker.
And then there’s the matter of age, with Cazorla turning 30 in December. If anything it makes more sense to hang onto the Spaniard and sacrifice someone like Tomas Rosicky, who turns 34 in October. But Costa, at 23, would obviously represent something much more long term than either of the two Arsenal midfielders.
The Brazilian is also an exciting talent who has been a regular in the Shakhtar team since making the switch from Gremio in 2010. He has Champions League experience and would make a lot of sense as a natural wide addition to the squad, with Wenger likely preferring Alexis Sanchez primarily as a striker.
The oddity of it all comes with Cazorla having been one of the many Arsenal players to extend their contract over the past year, with the 29-year-old penning a two-year extension back in March. Moreover, his experience of the Premier League and his versatility would be a big help in bridging the gap between Arsenal’s fourth-place finish last season and first.
Is Douglas Costa, therefore, worth the investment?
Here’s another interesting element to the question: Julian Draxler. The club had the Schalke forward on their radar for much of last year leading up to the recent January transfer window but were unable to convince the German side to sell. Now, Draxler appears set to stay on at Veltins Arena. Costa could very well be the alternative without actually having to sacrifice a key member of the squad at the Emirates.
But someone will have to make way in the event Costa arrives. Attacking midfield is the area where Arsenal are strongest, with Ozil, Wilshere, Cazorla, Theo Walcott, Alexis, Rosicky, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lukas Podolski, and Serge Gnabry all options. The best case scenario is that Joel Campbell is sacrificed, allowing for Wenger to retain Cazorla and add Costa, who is further down the development road than the Costa Rican international.
One thing is for sure, Wenger’s apparent openness to snap up newly-available players – even if they weren’t on the wanted list prior to the summer – should not be treated with hostility. This is what fans have been clamouring for for the best part of a decade. And considering how influential injuries are in derailing Arsenal’s trophy ambitions, adding a talent like Douglas Costa, with the funds sitting waiting to be used, is no bad thing.