Amid an enormous exodus of first team talent at Southampton, a few weeks ago it was believed the sought-after Morgan Schneiderlin would be the latest Saints star to instigate his own exit from the south coast.
The defensive midfielder, who has made more tackles, 259, and more interceptions, 207, than any Premier League player since the Saints’ top flight ascension in summer 2012, was linked heavily with moves to Arsenal and Tottenham – the former in desperate need of a holding midfielder and the latter now lead by former St. Mary’s boss Mauricio Pochettino.
But despite handing in an official transfer request, Southampton have declared that whether he likes it or lumps it, the France international will not be allowed to leave this summer.
Thus, it’s time for both North London clubs to seek alternatives as the summer transfer window enters it’s final stages. And being the lovely bunch we are at Football Fancast, we’ve listed SIX that the Gunners and the Lilywhites should be strongly considering.
News emerged yesterday evening that Arsenal are preparing an £8million bid for Cheick Tiote and the Newcastle dynamo would certainly do a decent job for Tottenham too.
— Express Football (@ExpressFootball) August 12, 2014
The 28 year-old has been a central factor in the Tyneside outfit’s successes since joining the Magpies from FC Twente in summer 2010, and now offers 107 games-worth of Premier League experience.
No doubt, the Ivory Coast international is a real warrior – last season he recorded one of the best tackling returns in the Premier League, as detailed below:
He’s consistent in possession too, as viewable below, although Tiote’s passing range is admittedly rather limited:
Another negative would be the Magpies midfielder’s discipline problems. He picked up 25 yellow cards in his first 50 league games for the Toon, and was booked once in every three appearances last season, also averaging two fouls per match.
But for a mere £8million, Tiote would be a decent stop-gap solution at cheap cost until a higher-quality defensive midfielder comes Arsenal and Tottenham’s way.
Gunners fans will remember the mohawked midfielder most for this sensational strike against the Emirates outfit in 2011:
Another Premier League alternative both North London sides should be considering is Steven N’Zonzi, who conveniently enough has handed in a transfer request for the second summer in a row at Stoke City. Clearly his ambitions are a little higher than the Potteries.
The 25 year-old has proved himself to be an effective force in the English top flight, having won the Player of the Season award at Blackburn, the Young Player of the Year award with the Potters and amassed 157 league appearances.
The Frenchman pops up with the occasional belter…
And his quality on the ball, for a holding midfielder who measures in at 6 foot 4, often goes unaccredited, this clip being a perfect example:
N’Zonzi was vital for the Britannia outfit last season, making more passes than any player in the Stoke City squad as they began to expand from their attritional roots. And despite assumptions otherwise, he was not only consistent but largely progressive on the ball, as detailed below:
Having seemingly found a new sense of maturity following a spat of disciplinary problems in his earlier career, the former France U21 appears ready for the next level.
And likely available for under £10million, he could prove to be a real coup for either Spurs or Arsenal.
Former Manchester City shin-breaker Nigel de Jong has been linked with a number of Premier League clubs this summer, most notably Manchester United:
— IndyFootball (@IndyFootball) August 7, 2014
The interest follows a strong season with AC Milan, despite them finishing in 9th place last year, and an impressive World Cup campaign with the Netherlands, as detailed below:
Affectionately known as ‘The Lawnmower’, there’s no doubting the 29 year-old’s credentials as a top-class ball-winner. Here’s a look at the Milan star in action:
De Jong offers vital Premier League experience too, having spent three-and-a-half years at the Etihad, picking up the English title in 2012.
It remains to be seen whether Manchester United’s interest is genuine, but with just a year left on the Oranje enforcer’s contract, the San Siro side have little choice but to let him go this summer if a decent bid comes along.
By far the most expensive suggestion on this list, Portugal prodigy William Carvalho is available to any club that’s prepared to pay his £37million release clause.
— Metro Sport (@Metro_Sport) July 2, 2014
That’s a lot of money for a 22 year-old, but Carvalho is commonly regarded as one of the most exciting prospects in world football.
An eighteen-month stay with Cercle Brugge soon lead to a surprise inclusion in the Sporting Lisbon first team at the start of the 2013/14 campaign. Carvalho’s progress and development has been earning rave reviews ever since and his sensational rise over the last year was capped off with a decent showcasing of his abilities at Brazil 2014, as detailed below:
The Sporting Lisbon midfielder measures in at 6 foot 2, weighs 14 stone and is famed for his immense physicality. He also knows where the goal is, having netted four times in 30 league appearances for the Portuguese capital outfit. Here’s a look at Carvalho in action:
As previously stated, the Portugal international appears determined to join a more competitive club this summer and even without Champions League football, the quality of the Premier League could be enough for Tottenham to attract his signature.
Arsenal’s interest in Carvalho is already well known:
Arsenal locked in Sporting Lisbon talks for William Carvalho http://t.co/Epvm5GrcGh
— Tribal Football (@tribalfootball) August 5, 2014
But recent speculation suggests long-term admirers Manchester United are about to muscle in:
— Barclays League (@BarclaysLeague) August 14, 2014
Luis Gustavo was strongly linked with an Emirates switch last summer before joining Wolfsburg, and the Brazil international has once again emerged as a priority target for Arsenal:
— Beat the Line (@BeattheLineNews) August 12, 2014
The 27 year-old, formerly of Bayern Munich, was one of the most prolific tacklers in the Bundesliga last season, as detailed below:
And despite the 2014 side being dubbed the worst Selacao assembly of all time, Gustavo was one of their better contributors at the World Cup, putting in a number of impressive performances:
The 6 foot 2 midfielder is slender in build and doesn’t offer the natural power of some of the other candidates on this list. But he’s quick, has a great engine and is renowned for his composure on the ball.
That would fit Arsenal’s style of play perfectly, whilst his internationally-proven quality would certainly improve Tottenham’s starting XI too.
Despite Arsene Wenger’s alleged revived interest however, the Wolfsburg star has declared that he won’t be moving to the Premier League this summer:
— Express Football (@ExpressFootball) August 11, 2014
A more risky option that’s reportedly already caught Arsenal’s attention but is certainly worth Tottenham’s consideration too comes in the form of Lille midfielder Idrissa Gueye.
Arsenal and Everton have made inquiries about Lille midfielder Idrissa Gueye. (People)
— Football Addicts (@FootballAdd1cts) June 15, 2014
Don’t be fooled by the 24 year-old’s 5 foot 9 fame – he made the most tackles per match of any Ligue 1 midfielder last season, as detailed below:
He furthermore dominated the French top flight’s passing charts:
2547 – Top 3 most successful passes in Ligue 1 this season: Thiago Motta (2547), Marco Verratti (2151), Idrissa Gueye (1846). Generous.
— OptaJean (@OptaJean) May 19, 2014
Equally contributed going forward:
And also fell over, very hilariously:
Valued as lowly as £6million by TalkSport, the Senegal international could prove to be a real find for either North London club.