Why Spartak Moscow's Romulo Would Be a Great Tactical Fit for Arsenal
As the January transfer window rolls on, fans dream up their ideal sequence of events. For many Gooners, that sequence will involve some form of midfield reinforcement, and Romulo is one of very few options that could significantly boost the North London side.
Abou Diaby was in monstrous form early this season, but his chronic health issues are well documented, and the loss to Manchester City marked his first appearance in around three months.
With Diaby such a pivotal cog in what could be such a superb midfield, shouldn't Arsene Wenger look to recruit someone who can be relied upon?
Step forward, Romulo.
While he's not as flashy as Diaby can be, he's nailed the basics and provides a lot for his team without many noticing it.
You see the likes of Claudio Marchisio and Arturo Vidal rocking the midfield box-to-box role, and you wonder where you can find a slightly cheaper version who will join you.
Spartak Moscow plucked Romulo from Vasco just like they plucked Rafael Carioca from Gremio, and his performances for the Russian side bought him a chance to shine at the London 2012 Olympics.
Despite Mano Menezes' many flaws and mistakes as Brazil boss, it's undeniable that he got Romulo's role spot on.
He played as a shuttler who ran the channels on either side of Oscar. While Chelsea's new signing grabbed all the plaudits at the time, if it weren't for Romulo, his colleague's static, immobile presence on the pitch would have looked lost in a sea of energy.
Menezes' 4-3-3 absolutely required an all-action midfielder to drive his side forward—Romulo was his Under-23 star, Hernanes should have been his senior star.
Here we circle Romulo in his own half as midfield colleague Sandro picks the ball up from his centre-back and initiates an attack.
The attack ends up being aimed at Leandro Damiao's head, and—we're talking a matter of seconds here—Romulo is there, breaching the penalty box and pressuring the goalkeeper.
He scored later in this very game in similar fashion.
He's not just an energiser bunny with a penchant for scoring goals, either. He's a defensive workhorse.
Here, we see him ably tracking the run of a potentially fatal South Korea attack.
Put the ball into the space behind Rafael and you've got a problem, but Romulo spots the danger very early and snuffs out the opportunity.
When I asked Sky Sports correspondent Paulo Freitas his thoughts on Romulo, he verified the opinion Brazilian football aficionados widely hold.
@stighefootball I think he is very good, pretty modern player, but his influence in the games is a bit 'invisible' on TV.— Paulo Freitas (@Cynegeticus) July 21, 2012
A lot of what Abou Diaby does for Arsenal used to be invisible, until he racked up a succession of games this season and proved how integral he was when the team stuttered in his absence.
If Diaby could play 40 games a season, Arsene Wenger would have the vertical thrust his midfield badly needs all year round. Unfortunately, Diaby manages less then half that figure, so it would make sense to secure a second player capable of what the Frenchman does.
With Kwadwo Asamoah, Mauricio Isla, Marchisio, Vidal, Yaya Toure, Ramires and Sami Khedira out of reach, Romulo is the man to get.
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