It’s that time of the year again – the rumours are beginning to surface, an end of season recovery mission has started and some unlikely players have made their first team claim.
One of these players is Mohamed Elneny, who arrived for just £7m in January, and at this point, who would argue with that? He has brought a good balance into the team, he’s not scared to go forward and take a shot at goal, as he did so brilliantly against Barcelona for his first Arsenal goal, but he has also supplemented Francis Coquelin’s defensive efforts – something that Aaron Ramsey maybe struggled with at times.
Fans have been crying out for a strong, powerful central midfielder – something the team have arguably lacked since the days of Gilberto Silva and Patrick Vieira. But despite Elneny’s impact and Coquelin’s return to form after an injury lay-off, Arsenal are reported to have made an enquiry for Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka. The midfielder has made a big name for himself at Borussia Monchengladbach, becoming one of the Bundesliga’s most talented central midfielders, and with over 100 appearances for the club at just 23-years-old, he looks the real deal.
However, this may come a concern to the likes of Jack Wilshere, Ramsey, Elneny, even Coquelin and Santi Cazorla. As we know all five of those midfielders are amongst the Premier League’s finest when in form, but should Arsenal sign Xhaka, where does this leave such players? Wilshere, Ramsey and Coquelin are players that Arsène Wenger is particularly fond of, being players who have come through the youth academy or signed at a young age. With Jack Wilshere’s injury record, and Ramsey’s struggle for form, both players could find themselves struggling to hold down a starting spot in the team.
Then there’s Cazorla and Coquelin, who formed such a formidable partnership in the 2014/2015 season, and were key to Arsenal’s fantastic form in 2015. It’s easy to forget that for someone of such class, with such grace on the ball, that the Spaniard is 31-years-old. There is a chance that his fitness levels may start to decline over the next few seasons, so would there be a temptation to slot in a young, energetic Xhaka over him? Or would Coquelin be the player sacrificed in order to accommodate Cazorla’s fantastic ability?
With the quality that Arsenal have in midfield, and the recurrent injuries that haunt the club, it is too hard to predict how Arsenal’s midfield will shape out – should the signing of Xhaka be completed. With Ramsey’s goalscoring record in recent years, Wilshere’s drive and ability to control games, Cazorla’s passing and technical ability, Coquelin’s defensive instinct and Elneny’s energy across the pitch, it really is going to be tough for the manager to select a team. And with a potential six players battling for two positions on the pitch, we could see some of the Premier League’s finest talent struggling for game time.