Arsenal are clearly in the market for a new central midfielder and they may have stumbled upon an ideal ‘plan B’ to Declan Rice…
According to the Evening Standard, the Gunners could rival Chelsea to more than just the West Ham United skipper as they consider Brighton and Hove Albion machine Moises Caicedo as a viable alternative.
The Blues failed to sign the 21-year-old earlier this month, despite two bids of £55m or more. Some reports suggest that the Seagulls are unwilling to sell for less than £100m.
There is now a growing expectation that the Gunners’ ‘top target’ Rice will leave the east Londoners at the end of the season but as Chelsea are long-term admirers, competition should be rife for his signature, so Caicedo has emerged as another option.
If sporting director Edu Gaspar is unable to get the England international to the Emirates Stadium, then the Seagulls sensation is one mighty alternative and one that should ultimately be considered in his own right.
Across the whole of the English top-flight, only one player to have played more minutes than Caicedo has averaged more tackles per game (2.9) in Fulham powerhouse Joao Palhinha (4.7), whilst his average of 1.4 interceptions per game also ranks him in the top six of all midfielders.
Rice is in a similar bracket, averaging 2.6 tackles and 1.5 interceptions each outing for the Hammers this term, also via WhoScored.
The Ecuadorian’s average of 73.1 touches per game, combined with an 88% passing accuracy, suggests he has a penchant for ball retention and playmaking from a deep-lying role and that ultimately makes him a very nice fit for Mikel Arteta and his system.
Indeed, WhoScored list tackling, concentration and ball intercepting as three of his strongest assets, only further highlighting what an absolute monster he could be in the Gunners’ engine room.
Meanwhile, Caicedo has been likened to N’Golo Kante in the past, perhaps one of the greatest modern-day defensive midfielders that the Premier League has seen.
“A year ago he was saying that Kante of Chelsea is his role model but he is already more than that. He already offers more in the final third,” once claimed South American football expert Tim Vickery. “That kind of box-to-box midfielder that’s very much in the tradition of the England game. Strong, quick, intelligent and cool. He really does look like the genuine article.”
Edu and co may have to wait until the summer but if they cannot secure a move for Rice, then Caicedo ought to be their priority – given the evidence above, he’d be the perfect Gunners signing.