Arsenal Transfer Rumours: Gunners Would Be Smart to Pursue Ibrahim Afellay

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistMay 31, 2012

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JANUARY 26:  Ibrahim Afellay of Barcelona looks on during the Copa del Rey Semi Final First Leg match between Barcelona and Almeria at Camp Nou on January 26, 2011 in Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona won 5-0.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

Metro has reported that Arsenal are one of the clubs interested in pursuing a move for Barcelona's Ibrahim Afellay. Signing Afellay would be a smart move that Arsene Wenger should seriously consider.

The former PSV Eindhoven star is the kind of versatile and creative midfielder Arsenal need to add to their ranks this summer. Afellay is able to operate in a wide role thanks to deceptive pace and excellent ball skills.

Underrated strength and superior technique also allow Afellay to be an effective playmaker in central areas. That kind of versatility can be particularly useful in Arsenal's current formation.

The Gunners need some competition for Aaron Ramsey and Tomas Rosicky at the most advanced position of their central midfield trio. The team could certainly use more goals than the five managed by Ramsey and Rosicky last season.

In addition, Wenger often favours the use of a more traditional midfield player in the wide berths. The introduction of veteran Yossi Benayoun on the left flank helped turn Arsenal's season around.

At 26, Afellay is a younger alternative to the 31-year-old Rosicky and Arsenal have yet to make a formal offer to secure 32-year-old Benayoun on a permanent deal from Chelsea. Afellay can upgrade the options all across the midfield line.

Metro indicates that Barcelona are seeking a fee close to £6 million for Afellay and that Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur could also be in the running for his signature. However, Afellay's friendship with club captain Robin van Persie could sway a deal in Arsenal's favour.

Afellay has the skill and pedigree to be the kind of signing that could convince Van Persie to finally sign a new contract. The only concern regarding Afellay is a rather lengthy injury history.

He missed several months last season due to a knee ailment which required surgery. Yet given Arsenal's numbers in midfield and the relatively low fee, Afellay is certainly worth the risk for the Gunners.