Arsenal should consider versatility as reason to sign Wilfried Zaha

This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…

Arsenal are on the hunt for signings in what’s expected to be a ‘big week’ for the Gunners in the summer transfer market.

On the chalkboard

Unai Emery’s side continue to be linked with deals for Wilfried Zaha, Everton Soares and Kieran Tierney, though these deals could prove to be problematic.

The reported transfer fee demanded for Crystal Palace’s man suggests the Gunners should perhaps forget the deal and target the younger, cheaper alternative in Brazil’s Copa America star, Everton.

Zaha is available at a premium price of £80m, and while it’s more than double the reported fee for the Gremio winger, there may be a reason why Arsenal are still trying to find a way to get the transfer done, rather than turn to cheaper alternatives.

Zaha’s flexibility

The Gunners’ squad options for natural right-wingers look very short. Alex Iwobi, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mesut Ozil have all had stints on the right-hand side, but it’s not worked out for any of them, who prefer roles more central or on the left.

Zaha himself seemed to thrive on the left-wing for his side last season, but what makes him so difficult to stop is his flexibility. If he’s having no joy playing on the left, he’s comfortable enough to move up-front or onto the right-wing as well.

While Arsenal may be looking to bring Zaha in to play predominantly on the left wing, he’s a far more proven option on the right over Everton. According to Transfermarkt, the Palace winger has played 153 games on the right, scoring 24 goals and registering 32 assists, whereas on the left he’s managed just 12 goals and 16 assists in 73 games.

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This shows the versatility the Ivorian can bring, despite playing 17 games on the left last season and only two on the right. Gremio’s Everton on the other hand has only played 21% of his senior games on the right, so would find it more difficult to start in alternate positions.

Yes Zaha is Premier League proven, and yes he’s hitting his prime years, but his flexibility should definitely be taken into account when considering whether to part with the huge cash sum it’ll take to bring him to Arsenal. If the £80m is going towards a player who can play several roles and adapt to the injuries and selection headaches that will arise, then that in itself is a huge asset for the Gunners.

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