Arsenal will need to tread carefully in the January transfer window. The moves the team makes will greatly influence its ability to finish in top four this season. Fortunately for the Gunners, PSV Eindhoven’s Kevin Strootman will be available. He is a player who would greatly benefit the Gunners this year and for many future campaigns.
According to Sami Mokbel of the Daily Mail, “The Holland international was watched by Arsenal chief scout Steve Rowley and a senior Manchester United scout.” The article notes that it will likely take £20 million to pry Strootman away from PSV.
Arsene Wenger is taking steps towards signing the 22-year-old central midfielder, and beating out United would help bolster the Gunners' midfield.
Strootman excels when playing as a holding midfielder. While he is not a dominant tackler, he is certainly able to make an important defensive contribution.
But his true impact would show up in Arsenal’s possession statistics, as he is remarkably accurate and intelligent with his passing. Along with Jack Wilshere, Wenger would have two extremely talented and young central midfielders.
The two players are similar due to their ability to play multiple roles in the midfield. Either playmaker is comfortable in an attacking position, as well as in sitting back and distributing from deeper down the field.
Strootman’s arrival would likely cut into Mikel Arteta’s time, but this is something that Arsenal can live with. The experienced Spaniard has played well as a lynchpin in the midfield this season, but the young Dutchman—who has five goals and four assists in 16 Eredivisie appearances—can equal Arteta’s offensive contribution while having more of an impact defensively.
Wenger’s tactics call for two defensive central midfielders to support Santi Cazorla. Playing with Wilshere alongside Strootman would give the Gunners a tremendous amount of playmaking ability from the center of the field.
All three of these players are capable of unleashing jaw-dropping passes that leave opposing defenders frustrated and confused.
Strootman would also give Arsenal the depth it needs to slowly bring back Abou Diaby, who has once again struggled with injuries. Given Diaby’s past problems with staying healthy, Wenger would be wise to use him as a tactical substitute whose tackling can help protect a lead.
Arsenal faces a difficult road going forward this season. It cannot afford to drop points to bottom-half teams if it hopes to secure a spot in Champions League for next season.
But Wenger also must ensure that his team is able to perform well in this year’s European campaign. To do that, he needs greater depth in his midfield.
Strootman’s versatility makes him an ideal addition this season, as he can adapt to multiple positions and formations. At 22 years old, he is also an ideal age for a transfer target.
When the January transfer window opens, the Gunners would be smart to do what is necessary to beat out the competition for Strootman’s signature. The young midfielder is capable of being a key contributor to a resurgence in the second half of the season.