Arsenal lost first-choice center midfielder Alex Song to Barcelona, but the team would not miss a beat if it brought in Stade Rennes’ Yann M’Vila.
Rob Kelly of Arsenal.com quoted manager Arsene Wenger on Monday saying, “We are looking to bring one more midfielder in of course, and maybe one defender as well because we still feel we are short in some positions,” as the August 31 deadline Deal draws nearer.
On Tuesday, ESPN reported that Rennes’ general manager Pierre Dreossi speculated to Radio Monte Carlo as to where he would sell the talented 22-year-old. Dreossi said, “Arsenal? Maybe. You need to ask Arsene Wenger. I think Arsenal will look for a player in this position. He (M'Vila) could go there or to a club which sells Arsenal a player.”
This is not the first time this summer that M’Vila has been rumored to be London-bound, but Song’s £15 million move to Barça, as reported by the Daily Mail, now puts Arsenal in a more desperate situation.
Song was a force in the center of the pitch. He recorded 1.9 interceptions and 2.9 tackles per match last season, according to Whoscored.com, but also contributed heavily to the team’s attack. He led the Gunners with 11 assists in 34 English Premier League Appearances.
The team also lost Robin van Persie, its top scorer from a season ago. Unsurprisingly, Arsenal struggled to create quality opportunities in its opening fixture against Sunderland, which ended in a scoreless draw.
Wenger has already signed new attacking players, bringing in Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla earlier in the transfer window. Now, he must get a player who can stabilize the midfield and fill the space between the back line and the forward players.
M’Vila is not the same force in the attack that Song was, but he is more than capable of equaling the former Gunners’ defensive contribution. M’Vila’s long legs regularly snap up balls in the midfields, and he averaged 2.5 interceptions and 3.1 tackles in Ligue 1 matches last season, as noted by Whoscored.com.
He only recorded two assists and if he moves to Emrites Stadium he will be asked to improve upon his 83.9 pass success percentage, also via Whoscored.com. But M’Vila is still young and has the skill and touch to learn from Wenger and his teammates.
When executing Wenger’s heralded possession-oriented tactics, he will become a more intelligent passer. It is almost certain that M’Vila will not lead the team in assists as Song did, but he will give the Gunners a dominant ball-winner who is a capable passer.
M’Vila is capable of playing at high level immediately upon arrival and has the potential to get better going forward. He would be a perfect fit for Arsenal in the center of the pitch this season.