Edu could sign Arsenal’s new Patrick Vieira in Lille midfielder Renato Sanches this summer amid an exciting transfer update.
Despite recently signing Albert Sambi Lokonga from Anderlecht, Arsenal are very much in the market for some new additions to their midfield, especially with Granit Xhaka inching ever closer to a move to AS Roma.
Now, The Daily Mail have claimed that if the Gunners can’t manage to get a deal for Leicester’s James Maddison over the line, then Mikel Arteta’s side could turn their attentions towards Sanches.
The report reveals that the Gunners have a strong relationship with Lille – no surprise given that they’ve snapped up the likes of Nicolas Pepe and Gabriel from them in recent seasons – and that could bode well for a possible move.
While Sanches may not have the same height as Vieira, what he does have that is very reminiscent of the Frenchman, is that power and dynamism.
As per FBREF, the 23-year-old completed 65.5% of his dribbles last season in Ligue 1, while he made 8.37 progressive carries per 90 minutes – to put that into context, Thomas Partey, averaged 5.63.
His passes were also more progressive than Partey, indicating a player who always looks forward either through trying to play in between the lines, or by taking the ball up the pitch himself with his trademark surging runs.
A profile of Vieira on Arsenal.com, said: “But what made Vieira special was that his graft came hand in hand with craft. The composure and quality of his passing meant that, as well as quelling the threat of the opposition, Patrick became a vital cog in Wenger’s forward-thrusting machine.
“There were few more graceful sights in football than Vieira holding off an opponent in a congested midfield before flicking the ball over his head and racing away downfield to spark another Arsenal attack.”
That ability to change the tempo of a game through his sheer power and strength is equally evident in Sanches.
Bundesliga.com once described him as a “box-to-box midfielder with the strength of a WWE heavyweight and the nimble feet of a ballet dancer” – a great indication of the kind of combination of both athleticism and technique that he possesses, much like Vieira in his prime.
And, while on punditry duty for Belgium’s clash against Portugal, Vieira himself said (via football.london): “He was a big prospect. Everybody was waiting for him to be one of the top young players for the future. Last year with Lille, he did really well. He wasn’t really consistent during the season, but he had some flashes of his talent.”
The £27m-rated powerhouse could well be Arsenal’s natural successor to Vieira in the middle of the park, and allow the Gunners to feel more confident at waving goodbye to an established first-team regular like Xhaka.
And when you get to imagining the kind of power and dynamism that a midfield pairing of Sanches and Partey could bring to the table at the Emirates, then it becomes a very mouth-watering prospect.