Arsenal have already made considerable headway in the transfer market this summer with the captures of former Newcastle defender Mathieu Debuchy and ex-Barcelona star Alexis Sanchez.
The north Londoners are expected to continue their free spending, as they line up a £15million bid for Mario Balotelli and target a holding midfielder, with their priority choice said to be Real Madrid’s Sami Khedira.
It was believed a deal was on the verge of being struck, but reports over the last few days have suggested the Germany World Cup winner’s wage demands will prevent a move from taking place, with Chelsea now emerging as a more likely transfer destination.
There are still a number of defensive midfield options on Arsene Wenger’s radar however, and thus, we discuss FIVE that would be more than adequate alternatives to the Los Blancos enforcer.
The obvious alternative to Sami Khedira, in my opinion at least, is Germany team-mate Lars Bender, whom the Gunners were known to be courting last summer.
As shown below, the Bayer Leverkusen vice captain is a tackle machine:
And has developed an uncanny knack of scoring for his country, going on a run of three goals in six matches in 2013. Here’s one of his strikes against Ecuador…
The 25 year-old would certainly bring something different to Arsenal’s midfield:
— Oli Price-Bates (@OliPriceBates) April 15, 2014
He ranks pretty well against Arsenal’s other known defensive midfield targets too:
And recent speculation suggests the Gunners are already planning a swoop for Bender:
— Barclays League (@BarclaysLeague) July 20, 2014
Another well-documented Khedira alternative is Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin:
Arsenal set to revive their pursuit of Morgan Schneiderlin should they fail to land Khedira http://t.co/aUngltqln7
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) July 19, 2014
The France international has been a central factor in the Saints’ successes since their return to the Premier league in summer 2012. He netted five times in the 2012/13 campaign, and although failed to match that potency last season, remained in strong form, as detailed below:
That mixture of industriousness and tidiness on the ball will certainly impress Arsene Wenger, just as it earned the 24 year-old a spot in Didier Deschamps’ World Cup squad.
However, the word on the street is that Schneiderlin could reject the Gunners in favour of north London rivals Tottenham, where he would link up again with former Southampton boss Mauricio Pochettino:
Tottenham lead Arsenal in race for Morgan Schneiderlin, who has told me they have a “great future” under Pochettino > http://t.co/tB2I7EsURt
— Greg Stobart (@gstobart) July 21, 2014
A midfield monolith measuring in at 6 foot 3 whilst also famed for his fluency on the ball, if it’s a physically imposing anchor Arsene Wenger is searching for this summer then he need look no further than Bayern Munich’s Javi Martinez.
The Spain international thoroughly impressed during his first season at the Allianz Arena, amassing 43 appearances in an integral role as the Barvians claimed the Bundesliga and Champions League titles.
And despite producing decent enough domestic form last season, as detailed below:
…the arrival of Pep Guardiola in summer 2013 subsequently saw his game-time reduced to just 18 league appearances last season, with the 25 year-old allegedly deemed too slow for the former Barcelona manager’s tica-taca philosophy.
The former Athletic Bilbao midfielder’s slump down the pecking order has triggered Arsenal’s interest, according to the Telegraph. Here’s his best moments thus far for the German champions:
He can also play at centre-back, which is another major selling point amid rumours that Thomas Vermaelen could be on his way to Manchester United.
But originally sourced for a club-record £32million fee, Bayern won’t be prepared to sell at a loss. Furthermore, there are rumours the Spaniard could be on his way to Barcelona:
Barca set to rival Arsenal in move for £30m Bayern defender Martinez http://t.co/z6Bibf1suo @MailOnlineSport
— Don Vik (@ViktorStan) May 12, 2014
A slightly out-of-the-box suggestion perhaps, but you can’t fault Steven N’Zonzi’s ambition, having handed in a transfer request for the second summer in a row at Stoke City:
Stoke’s Steven N’Zonzi demands transfer for second summer running: French midfielder wants to ”play at highest… http://t.co/QkSfKkZUhy
— Football-News (@Bot_Football) May 16, 2014
There may be more lucrative and famous names on Arsene Wenger’s summer wishlist, but the 25 year-old has proved himself to be an effective force in the Premier League, having won the Player of the Season award at Blackburn, the Young Player of the Year award with the Potters and amassed 157 top flight appearances.
The Frenchman pops up with the occasional belter…
And his quality on the ball, for a holding midfielder who measures in at 6 foot 4, often goes unaccredited, this clip being a perfect example:
Likewise, he was vital for the Potters last season as they branched out from their attritional roots, as seen below:
A more risky option the Gunners are reportedly considering is a move for Lille midfielder Idrissa Gueye:
Arsenal and Everton have made inquiries about Lille midfielder Idrissa Gueye. (People)
— Football Addicts (@FootballAdd1cts) June 15, 2014
The 24 year-old may only measure in at 5 foot 9, but was in sensational form last season to make the most tackles per match of any Ligue 1 midfielder, as detailed below:
He furthermore dominated the French top flight’s passing charts:
2547 – Top 3 most successful passes in Ligue 1 this season: Thiago Motta (2547), Marco Verratti (2151), Idrissa Gueye (1846). Generous.
— OptaJean (@OptaJean) May 19, 2014
And also fell over, quite hilariously:
Interestingly, despite predominately considered a ball-winning midfielder, Gueye likes to contribute going forward too:
Valued at just £6million according to TalkSport, the Lille star could prove to be a major find for the Gunners.