As Arsenal’s search for a new midfielder rumbles on, Cheick Tiote of Newcastle is now firmly a name in the mix. The rugged Ivorian – who is currently away at the AFCON – is understood to be a £9m target for the Gunners, with talks between the club and the players’ representatives having already taken place.
However, despite his talents, Tiote is not exactly the sort of player to set pulses racing at the Emirates Stadium… yet his team-mate, Moussa Sissoko, is. Another linked with a move from the North East to London, the Frenchman seems better suited to the ‘Arsenal way’ and we think he could be a more useful signing. Here are FIVE reasons Arsene Wenger should be looking at Sissoko, not Tiote…
While Tiote is a specialised holding midfielder, Sissoko can operate from a range of roles. This season alone the Frenchman has played in each midfield position through the centre of the pitch as well as on the right of an attacking midfield line, but in the past he’s been known to drift to the opposite flank and even fill in a little deeper. Wenger is known to appreciate diversity and versatility in his players, and Sissoko’s ability to feature in a range of roles could be a tool the experienced boss may find useful with continental and domestic football to balance.
Tiote is 28, Sissoko is 25. It may seem a little simplistic, but, in theory, the latter has three more years at the highest level. Tiote is, arguably, in his peak years now, while Sissoko is just about to enter the range at which he’s likely to be at the very top of his powers. As a result, the Ivorian will have less time and a lower sell-on value, while the France international’s price tag may increase at the same rate as his abilities.
Tying in with versatility, Sissoko will be of greater use than Tiote in terms of contribution in the final third. The former Toulouse man out-punches his team-mate in terms of almost every key attacking stat, while his shorter range of passing makes him more suited to a ‘Wenger team’. Position on the pitch may have something to do with it, but Sissoko’s stats also take into account his time playing in a deeper role.
While Tiote is a destroyer, Sissoko is a hybrid of a break-up player and an attacking force. This is somewhat reflected through his consistent passing stats, with his overall accuracy having been impressive through his career. With Arsenal a ‘front foot’ team, Sissoko’s ability to get on the ball and make things happen could be useful.
“When I was young, Arsenal were my favourite team. My idol played there: Patrick Vieira. I have always loved that club. I still love that club.” The words of Sissoko himself.
A love for a club is key, and Sissoko’s passion for Arsenal could add the sort of determination and guts the Gunners have been criticised for lacking for some time.