For as long as memory serves, Arsenal have been renowned for their wealth of talent in the midfield. Whether it be the hard-tackling figure of Patrick Vieira shielding the defence or the newest Gunners hero in Francis Coquelin, the middle of the park has always been key for Arsene Wenger and his side. However, as the club finds itself at a crossroads regarding their midfield situation, a solution must be found and pursued for the future.
The north Londoners have been linked with several midfielders, including the likes Morgan Schneiderlin, now at Manchester United, William Carvalho, who recently signed a new contract at Sporting CP, Victor Wanyama, still at Southampton, the list goes on and ultimately, they have failed to capture that deep-lying talent in years gone by.
This is not to say that the Gunners are without genuinely outstanding midfield options disregarding Coquelin, such as Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Mikel Arteta and potentially new signing Mohamed Elneny, however, it would be a highly intelligent move to sign a long-term first team midfielder if Wenger is serious about mounting consistent title charges over the next five-ten seasons.
The makings of the modern day world-class midfielder can be hard to find unless they’re playing for a top European side; tenacity, work ethic, vision and fight. However, if Arsenal are to progress as a team, they must act on players of a high standard in order to reap the rewards. A player that fits into the category perfectly is Paris Saint-Germain’s Marco Verratti.
The midfielder has been widely touted as one of the best up and coming midfielders in the world after breaking into the French outfit’s first-team in recent years and imposing himself not only on the Ligue 1 leaders but also on the Italian national team, tying down his place in the starting 11.
At the age of just 23, Verratti fits the bill perfectly for the Gunners. With a huge amount of experience at such a young age coinciding with a huge future ahead of him, the Italian could prove to be the perfect option for Arsenal going forward.
Having represented PSG over 100 times at such an age next to the multi-talented Blaise Matuidi, Verratti has a wealth of knowledge and experience of what it is like to play at the very highest level of European football after impressing massively on the UEFA Champions League stage late on in the competition last season for the French giants.
Although his experience and maturity can be perceived as an asset to any team and to Verratti himself, it is not even considered to be his best attribute due to his outstanding creativity and ability on the ball.
The Italian’s long range passing and vision has gone from strength to strength in recent times, with his eye for a pass making plenty of openings for PSG over the years and catching the eye of many potential suitors for the Italy international. This, however, is what makes him such a good fit for Arsenal.
The ever-present creative genius that is Santi Cazorla still remains one of the best, and most versatile, midfielders in the game. However, he is not getting any younger and at 31-years-old, other options now simply have to be explored to replace the Spaniard in the long-term.
Possessing similar creative attributes and specialities to Cazorla, the 23-year-old PSG man would slot straight into the team in terms of a similar mould and playing style – the Arsenal way.
Average passes per game (2015/16 season) via WhoScored
– Marco Verratti: 87.6
– Santi Cazorla: 77.9
– Aaron Ramsey: 63
– Francis Coquelin: 38.6
Pass success percentage (2015/16 season) via WhoScored
– Marco Verratti: 93.5%
– Santi Cazorla: 89.8%
– Aaron Ramsey: 86%
– Francis Coquelin: 90.1%
Another way in which the long-term can be considered as the most crucial thing for the Gunners at the moment comes in the form of securing a sufficient midfield partner for the constantly improving Coquelin, who will be looking to reinforce his claim as Arsenal’s strongest defensive midfield option with further excellent performances.
Coquelin has impressed on several occasions, regardless of who he is playing next to since breaking into Wenger’s plans, due to the balance and stability he provides. However, after establishing himself as a crucial midfielder for the Gunners, an extra midfielder to partner him would simply make Arsenal even more of a force to be reckoned with – a player none other than Verratti. If Coquelin’s hard-hitting tackles and aggression can be complimented with a player of the Pescara-born midfielder’s vision and tenacity, Arsenal could well be on the way to finding a winning formula for the midfield battle.
The only potential stumbling block regarding a move for Verratti could come in the form of a hefty price tag and therefore big being needed to lure the Italian away from the French champions, as well as fighting off interest from the other footballing heavyweights of Europe. However, if sustainable success and silverware is what is desired at the Emirates, the cheque book must come out and the areas that need to be improved must be dealt with accordingly.
This season alone has shown how depth in every position can prove to be so costly or so crucial, but ensuring that world-class talent is at your disposal as a title-challenging club is simply necessary, making Verratti the ideal choice for Arsenal going forward.
Of course, Verratti is not a physically strong midfielder, nor does he have the characteristics and leadership skills of previous Arsenal midfielders such as Vieira, Gilberto Silva and co. however, there is no doubt that he could be the man to revitalise this current squad and lead them to glory with his on-the-ball genius.
Verratti, with his array of talents, will be a costly addition, but one that will, without doubt, serve the Gunners well in the Premier League for years to come, should Arsene decide to splash the cash.