Arsenal's search for a defensive midfielder continues with Odil Ahmedov the latest name to get linked to the Gunners. The Anzhi Makhachkala star would be a nice under-the-radar addition for manager Arsene Wenger.
Ashley Gray of the Daily Mail reports Ahmedov is hoping for a move to the Premier League or La Liga over the summer, with Arsenal emerging as his top choice. The Gunners first showed interest in him during last year's offseason window. Per Gray, Ahmedov said:
I’m really happy to be playing at Anzhi, but I want to try England or Spain. All the clubs in Spain and England are wonderful, but I would like, if I had the choice, to play for Arsenal.
Wenger has spent most of his time since the season ended looking for a player to add more stability to the midfield. Yann M'Vila has been the most popular name mentioned. The report says Ahmedov would be an alternative if a deal can't be reached with the Rennes young gun.
Ahmedov would bring some much-needed versatility to the Gunners. Even though he's spent most of his time as a holding midfielder, he has enough offensive skill to move forward if necessary and can even play along the back line in a pinch.
Arsenal earned a Champions League spot by finishing third in the league, but that was mostly due to an improved offensive attack, led by Robin van Persie. The team's defense was plagued by inconsistency throughout the campaign.
That's why a strong defensive midfielder is so important. Without one, the back line gets left to fend for itself, and that's hard to do over the course of a long season. A player like Ahmedov can sure up any weaknesses that arise.
His impact is often lost in a mountain of stats because his skills don't translate to the score sheet. But his player of the year honor with Anzhi Makhachkala shows it's not lost on those who watch him on a weekly basis.
While M'Vila should remain Arsenal's top option, Ahmedov would be a solid backup plan, unlike the myriad of other names bantered about recently. He's prepared to make his present felt right away and actually wants to be a Gunner, which always helps a player in terms of motivation.
He would be an upgrade over what the Gunners currently have available, as well. That's exactly what Wenger needs early in the window. A move for somebody who can shine immediately would set the tone for the entire summer.
So, even though fans have their sights set on bigger names, don't overlook Ahmedov. He would be a nice piece to the puzzle moving forward.