Over the weekend there was a lot of speculation in papers and websites that Arsene Wenger was considering a move for PSV Eindhoven player Ibrahim Afellay. Some transfer rumours really capture the imagination, and fans can rub their hands with glee at the prospect of a possible move for that dream signing, but Arsenal’s supposed interest in Afellay does not really inspire this sort of feeling. Afellay is a talented player sure, but do Arsenal really need another diminutive twinkle toed attacking midfielder? It is highly debateable.
Ibrhaim Afellay can play either as an attacking midfielder or as a winger and is a key player for Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven, becoming a first team regular at the age of 19. Known for his creativity and dribbling skills, Afellay’s best personal honour came when he was named as the Young Player of the Year in the Netherlands. Afellay has a decent goal scoring record for PSV but has yet to register internationally in 26 appearances. Afellay certainly has ability and would be a good signing for someone, but you have to question whether his services are really required at Arsenal.
At 24 years of age, Afellay is no longer a callow youth and you would have to wonder if the Dutchman is going to improve greatly over the next few years. If he played for Arsenal now, I do not think he would be in the first eleven, and although he looks like a good player in Holland, the Dutch league can be a very flattering one, one just has to look at the likes of Mateja Kezman and Afonso Alves for evidence of this. Notwithstanding the amount of competition Afellay would have in the team, it is doubtful whether he is of the quality to actually improve the side.
Arsenal already have a wealth of talent in attacking midfield in what is probably the club’s strongest position, and these are players who are better than Ibrahim Afellay. There is a criticism that Arsenal already have too many small, technically gifted players and whilst in some quarters that criticism is overstated, one would be wary of bringing another player of this ilk to the club.
The move that could open the door for the signing of Afellay would be Cesc Fabregas’ possible transfer to Barcelona next summer, and although players like Ramsey and Wilshere are developing well, a player still might be needed to replace Fabregas. If Wenger was intent on replacing Fabregas should the Spaniard leave, a better option would be someone like Miralem Pjanic. I am a big fan of the Bosnian who looks to be a very talented player, much more so in my view than Afellay, he is also 4 years younger and thus has more room for further improvement. Pjanic, now a key player for Lyon, would cost more money, but Fabregas would provide a huge transfer income and big quality would be needed to replace him.
Arsenal have a midfield already packed with talent, adding to the attacking aspect of it right now should not be one of Arsene Wenger’s priorities. Afellay is a talented player who looks to have a good future in the game, but it is doubtful whether he is of the standard that a side looking to win major championships require. The only situation where Arsenal would need a player like Afellay would be if Fabregas were to leave next season, but if this does happen Wenger should be looking to better players than Afellay to replace the Gunners’ captain.