One of the standout transfer rumours of the summer so far has been Arsenal’s link with Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal, with contrasting reports over the scintillating Chilean midfielder’s future aplenty.
With the truth of the matter yet to be revealed, it is pertinent to analyse just where Vidal would fit into the Arsenal set-up – especially given the competition for places in the side’s midfield.
Arsenal fans have been crying out for Arsene Wenger to secure an assertive central midfielder that can offer a dominant presence, win the ball back and dispel the common assumption that the Gunners are a soft touch physically. The emergence of Francis Coquelin last season has seemingly reduced the pressing need for this type of player, with Mathieu Flamini as an able back-up in this role.
In Vidal’s Bayer Leverkusen days, the South American battler was used in a central midfield role and gained Juventus’ attention through his work-rate and ability to win back possession. Despite these attributes still being present in the star’s game, the Serie A champions have largely used the Chilean as an attacking weapon rather than a defensive one. In the Bianconeri’s star-studded midfield, it is Vidal that plays at the head of a four-man quartet, with the South American charged with surging forward to support the side’s strikers.
He acts as a link between the team’s midfield and attack, with his movement off the ball also a feature of last season’s defeated Champions League finalists’ play. As such, it appears that if Vidal was to slot into Arsenal’s bespoke 4-2-3-1 formation next season, it would be as the man behind the lone striker, in a ‘No.10’ role of sorts.
This position has been most commonly occupied by Mesut Ozil of late, with the German playmaker charged with laying on chances for team-mates and acting as the creative spark to unlock stubborn opposition rearguards.
Vidal’s presence could well see the former Real Madrid attacking midfielder shift to one of the flanks, with Alexis Sanchez on the other wing. Ozil has been used in a wide role on occasion before by Wenger, but it is clear that the diminutive schemer would prefer to play centrally. A position on the flank would require Ozil to track back and defend, while also negating his influence to some extent, due to not being as involved in his team’s possession play.
There is no doubt that Vidal’s signing could well be a real boost to Sanchez, as the countrymen are friends from their exploits at national level. Vidal would give the North Londoners a new dimension in their attack and his versatility would also be a real plus for Wenger.
The main man to lose out if the Chilean arrives appears to be Ozil, but the collective would undoubtedly be stronger with Vidal as part of it.