Reports from the Daily Mail this morning have suggested that if Arsenal’s pursuit of German international, Sami Khedira, is to come to fruition, they will have to pay him a salary greater than that offered to Mesut Ozil upon his record deal last summer.
Despite the fact the Gunners are set to loosen their belts this summer, with Alexis Sanchez and Mathieu Debuchy reportedly days away from signing, Arsene Wenger isn’t the type to stray too far from tradition.
A defensive midfielder is thought to be one of the Gunners’ priorities this summer, and Khedira is one of the pricier options on the market.
The German’s all-round capabilities in midfield are widely thought to have attracted Wenger to his signing, but his wage demands and price tag may well be considered a bit on the steep side.
With this in mind, here are SIX alternative options for Wenger to consider this summer.
The Frenchman has enjoyed two very solid seasons since the Saints returned to the Premier League, and his form saw him rewarded with a World Cup call-up from Didier Deschamps. With Southampton having already lost a number of key players this summer, Schneiderlin looks one of the most likely candidates to follow suit.
His Premier League pedigree would negate the fears of ‘adaptation’ which some foreign players experience once they arrive in England. Arsenal play a similar possession-based style to Southampton, and Schneiderlin has proven himself adept at controlling the tempo of the game, whilst also acting as an effective destroyer in front of the back four. He would fit right in, and may demand the type of fee that Khedira would.
Ignore Brazil’s 7-1 drubbing against Germany, and Gustavo has been one of his country’s most consistent performers this summer. Arsenal put a bid in of around £17 million last summer to Bayern Munich, but big-spending Wolfsburg trumped the Gunners’ bid to secure the Brazilian.
Wolfsburg yet again failed to secure Champions League football for next season, and a player of Gustavo’s ability should be testing himself at the highest level. He is a modern defensive midfielder, preferring to pick the ball up alongside the centre-backs and distribute from deep. He has filled in at centre-half on occasions too, so he has proven versatility. Wenger has tried in the past, and could make another attempt this summer.
One of the most refreshing sights of the World Cup was undoubtedly the success of Costa Rica. In a team bereft of renowned superstars, the world got the chance to see youngsters such as Tejeda flourish on the international stage. The meticulous organisation and fitness of the Costa Rica side enabled them to conquer their ‘group of death’, and Tejeda was a consistent performer.
He was tenacious and disciplined in his defensive role in a midfield of three/five, and at just 22, he has proven himself mature beyond his tender age. Wenger is familiar with players at Tejeda’s club, Deportivo Saprissa, as he signed Joel Campbell from there three years back. Tejeda has impressed a number of European clubs, and Arsenal could well be one of them.
The expectation surrounding Belgium prior to the World Cup was largely based around the heavy Premier League presence in the side. However, Axel Witsel of Zenit St Petersburg shone the brightest of all their outfield stars. The 25-year-old wouldn’t constitute a cheap alternative to Khedira, but he may just suit the role better.
The Belgian is best when stationed in front of the back four in order to break up the opposition attacks and recycle possession. He is tall, athletic, and a physical specimen. Khedira prefers to rampage forwards whereas Witsel has more positional discipline, which would make him a more suitable replacement for Mikel Arteta once the Spaniard’s time is up with Arsenal.
Another player who looked poised to join Arsenal in a recent transfer window was Yohan Cabaye. The Frenchman was subject of a bid deemed insufficient by Alan Pardew at Newcastle and thus stayed on Tyneside until PSG snapped him up in January.
Cabaye was outstanding for France this summer as they made it to the quarter-final before falling 1-0 to Germany. His vision gives him the ability to influence games, even when filling a deeper midfield role, and his combative style makes him a shield for the defence. His time on the pitch for PSG was limited towards the end of the season, and with his close friend, Mathieu Debuchy, looking likely to join Arsenal, maybe an opening will present itself for Cabaye once more.
Song was part of arguably the most shameful team of the World Cup. Cameroon squabbled, striked, and kicked their way to last place in their group, and Song’s ignominious red card against Croatia won’t have done him any good if he is looking to leave Barcelona this summer. However, he has been linked with some big clubs, and Arsene Wenger is familiar with what he can bring to the side.
The ex-Arsenal man grew into one of the club’s leading stars before he jetted off to sunny Spain in 2012. His determination and spirit was always a popular trait with the Arsenal boss, and his passing developed over time, so much so that he regularly delivered cutting through balls for Robin van Persie to dispatch accordingly. His chances at Barcelona will likely be limited in the coming season, and Wenger could offer Song a lifeline.