Name: Morgan Schneiderlin
International Caps: 2
Position: Central Midfield
Southampton’s defensive midfielder, Morgan Schneiderlin, is by far and away the most unexpected name in the France national squad this summer. After two stellar Premier League campaigns, the previously uncapped 24-year-old was called into the 30-man provisional squad, before replacing Clement Grenier in the final 23 just days before the beginning of the competition.
Arsene Wenger has a job to do this summer in filling gaps in the starting line-up whilst also adding depth to the squad. Bringing in reinforcements to strengthen the club’s options in the deeper-lying midfield role is one of the tasks that the Arsenal boss faces, and recent newspaper reports have strongly linked the Southampton midfielder with a move to the Emirates.
Arsenal’s current options of Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini bring qualities in their own rights, but neither can successfully bridge the gap in abilities that exists between the two. While Arteta acts as a metronomic playmaker, initiating attacks and keeping the ball moving with short passes, Flamini is more of a dominant physical presence, breaking up attacks with his energetic, aggressive approach. What fans really wish for is a man who can provide both services.
Schneiderlin could be the answer to this specific problem. Since their promotion to the Premier League in 2012, Schneiderlin has been one of Southampton’s most consistent performers. For Southampton he occupies a defensive midfield position, using his superior strength and reading of the game to break attacks down before helping distribute the ball to their more creative midfielders.
Under Mauricio Pochettino, Southampton became one of the most exciting, ball-playing sides in England. Their style for the past 18 months hasn’t been wholly dissimilar to the possession-based, quick passing-style of Wenger’s Arsenal. With this in mind, Schneiderlin feels as though he would fit well into the Gunners’ system.
Arsenal have lacked someone who could provide the qualities that Schneiderlin does since the departure of Patrick Vieira nine years ago. At 24 years old Schneiderlin is still at an age where Wenger can continue to help develop his skills, and his Premier League experience would avoid the inevitable period of adaptation that players coming from Europe tend to suffer with. With a number of names being bandied around the media, Schneiderlin may not feel like the exotic choice, but he could prove to be a seriously effective one.
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