Reports emanating from the The Mirror suggest that Arsene Wenger is eyeing up a potential swoop for Atletico Madrid’s attacking midfielder, Diego, this summer. The Brazilian is out of contract at his parent club, Wolfsburg, in Germany and the reports suggest that Arsenal are monitoring his situation, as a bargain worth keeping an tabs on.
Bargains and free signings have become something of comical material when it comes to the Arsenal boss, as two of three permanent summer signings last year – Mathieu Flamini and Yaya Sanogo – were both pulled in on a free transfer.
Since joining Atletico Madrid this year, Diego has produced a mixed bag of displays, disappointing at times whilst wowing the Atleti fans with his technique and vision. A stunning wonder striker against Barcelona in the first-leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie is the highlight of his season so far. He’s added more depth and quality to Atletico’s squad as they compete on two fronts to the last day.
In terms of what Diego would bring to the Gunners, depth is about all I can muster. He is a technically adept player, who operates in the ‘number 10’ role. His reputation isn’t one of a particularly hard worker, and he would be unlikely to get into the Arsenal side in place of any of their attacking players.
But the suggestion that Wenger views Diego as a cheap option this summer doesn’t quite ring true. He is reportedly one of the highest earners in the Bundesliga – Wolfsburg are notorious for their disproportionately high wages – which would give a good indication as to why Atletico have never signed him on a permanent deal, despite a successful season-long loan spell in 2012. The cash-strapped Madrid side aren’t in a position to offer the types of six-figure wages Diego supposedly demands, and thus have settled for loan deals on both occasions.
With only a select few at Arsenal earning anywhere near the type of money Diego – reportedly somewhere around £5 million per year – it’s highly doubtful that the Arsenal boss – not exactly a known spendthrift – would part with that type of money for a player who has largely flattered to deceive since his days at Werder Bremen.
The thought that Wenger would plump for a player of Diego’s ilk, when there are many areas in the squad that require more urgent reinforcements, doesn’t quite sit properly. Being 29, and thus in the peak of his career, Diego hardly fits regular profile of a Wenger signing. For all his technique and skill on the ball, he lacks both the mobility and the work-rate to fit in at Arsenal.
To be truthful, the speculation feels as though the journalist was merely trying to fill pages, and gain a few extra hits. But if he were to be a genuine target for Wenger, he would add depth and little else – not to disregard the importance of squad depth, mind you. With his excessive wage requests, Diego would certainly not be a cheap investment either. It doesn’t feel Wengerish, and it certainly doesn’t feel genuine.