Arsenal

Arsenal FC: Are the Gunners in the Hunt for the 'Next Essien'?

ORZINUOVI, ITALY - AUGUST 18:  Afriyie Acquah of FC Parma gestures during the pre-season friendly match between Parma FC and Panionios G.S..S at Stadio di Orzinuovi on August 18, 2012 in Orzinuovi, Italy.  (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)
Marco Luzzani/Getty Images
Rohan SubraSenior Analyst IJanuary 1, 2013

Most of the focus of this transfer window for Arsenal is directed toward players who play up front. Demba Ba, Wilfried Zaha, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Adrian Lopez—these are names that we have heard countless times from Gooners, in the hope that Wenger will sign one of them.

Defenders, too, are getting some attention: Luke Shaw, Liam Moore and even Leighton Baines have all been mentioned in the discussion of potential signings. For some reason, even goalkeepers are getting a bit of discussion, like Simon Mignolet and Pepe Reina.

But the topic of holding midfielders has been relatively neglected this transfer window, partly due to Jack Wilshere's comeback and the glimmer of hope that is Abou Diaby's possible and much-anticipated return to fitness.

According to an article by The Express, Arsenal are interested in a young Ghanaian midfielder named Afriyie Acquah. Acquah is a Palermo player, but he is currently on a season-long loan to rivals Parma.

Sports News Ireland says that Acquah "was living on the streets of Sunyani when he was spotted by the Glentoran Academy." He was at the Glentoran Academy between 2005 and 2008, then moved on to Mine Stars, Bechem United, DC United of Ghana and Palermo between 2008 and 2011.

A strong defensive midfielder, the 20-year-old not only has offensive skills, but also has good vision. He is capable of playing nice passes and setting up teammates. These qualities have contributed to his being labeled the "next Michael Essien".

In over 40 combined appearances for Palermo and Parma, Acquah has yet to score a goal, but that doesn't mean that he hasn't made an impression. And on a better note, he did score an international goal against Malawi in just his second appearance for the Ghanaian senior squad.

The Sun reports that "Gunners boss Arsene Wenger now plans to have £8million-rated Acquah monitored at next month’s African Nations Cup." Most likely, the scouts sent to South Africa will give Wenger their opinions and Acquah will be considered during the summer.

The positive aspect of the proposed transfer is that his price won't be too high. Wenger may have to go a little bit above the valuation of roughly £8 million. However, he can develop the youngster just the way he wants at the Emirates, as he has done with so many promising talents over the years.

For now, Acquah probably wouldn't see much playing time, as Wilshere, Cazorla, and Arteta form a nice midfield partnership, but he could be subbed on a few times in order to get Premier League match experience.

You never know; he may become a vital part of the team in a few years.

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