Over the past week, Arsenal have been tentatively linked with a move for Anderlecht midfielder Lucas Biglia, after the midfielder made clear his plans to leave the Belgian champions this January.
A well-known name in the English media, Biglia remains somewhat of an unknown players to many. His reputation is better known than his actual attributes.
So, let's take a look at the Argentina star who many are hoping will head to the Emirates in the coming fortnight.
Who is he?
Lucas Biglia, 26 years old, is a seven-cap Argentine international holding midfielder, currently plying his trade at Anderlecht.
Having made his name at Buenos Aires-based Argentinos Juniors, the 5'10” deep-lying playmaker captained Argentina to glory at the 2005 Under-20 World Cup in Netherlands, before spending 18 months with Argentine giants Independiente.
However, it has been since joining Belgian side Anderlecht in 2006, for an estimated €3 million (TransferMarkt), that Biglia has made his name in Europe.
With three Belgian Pro League titles to his name, the Argentine has become an essential member of an Anderlecht side that is currently seen by many as one of the most aesthetically pleasing in Europe.
He has, though, already been tipped as a player destined for greater things for some time.
In the 2012-13 season to date, Biglia has played 34 times for the Brussels club in all competitions, scoring on three occasions. However, has caused uproar in the past week after failing to turn up at their midseason training camp in Turkey. (Sky Sports)
It is suggested that the club hope to convince him to remain in Belgium until the summer window, but Biglia is yet to return.
What can he offer Arsenal?
First off, are Arsenal interested? Media reports have linked them with Biglia for well over a year and have recently sprung up once more following his decision to go AWOL (Mirror).
His agent, who has been busy namedropping clubs on more than one instance, confirmed Gunners interest as far back as late-2011 (Sky Sports). Meanwhile, the player himself added to the Arsenal-related speculation last summer (Fox).
It is, thus, fair to assume that there is at least some interest there on the north London club's behalf.
A fine reader of the game, Biglia is an elegant ball-playing defensive midfielder rather than a destroyer. His range of passing will appeal to Arsenal, while his composure and close control in tight situations would be an asset to any side. He will always look for possession, which will appeal to Arsene Wenger.
It is easy to see how he would fit in alongside the likes of Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla in the Gunners' midfield, as he would surely complement their dynamic passing style. However, those Arsenal fans hoping for a midfielder with physicality to add directness to their midfield will be sadly disappointed.
Biglia is a fine technical player, but has never truly convinced regarding his tackling and strength in challenges. He would offer the club an increase in central midfield depth and quality, possibly allowing Santi Cazorla to push further forward, but is he really what Arsenal are looking for?
Biglia is undoubtedly a fine player, but ultimately more of the same as far as Arsenal are concerned.
What would he cost?
Last summer, Biglia himself was quoted as telling reporters that he would be available for a fee of around £6 million (€8 million, Metro), while recent reports have been fairly unanimous that £8 million is the Belgian side's asking price (Independent).
Either way, the quoted figures are well within the budget of a club like Arsenal and there should be little issue regarding his salary demands, given Arsenal's well-documented generous wage structure.
For his relatively modest price, Biglia represents a high quality, experienced addition for any club who is willing to take a gamble on his services.
What they say about a deal?
“Given his valuation at the moment, he could be bought by Chinese or Russian clubs. But he does not want to go to either of those places. Italy or England would be his preferred destinations,” Biglia's representative Enzo Montepaone said to La Derniere Heure (H/T Football Italia).
Chances of completion?
In my honest opinion, chances of a transfer are remote. Most of the buzz regarding a possible deal seems to once more be coming from the player's camp. The lack of widespread enthusiasm from the English media in the story would also tend to suggest that any move is still some way from completion.
Arsenal have proved reluctant to spend in the January window and Biglia is certainly far from the most necessary addition for the Gunners at present.
That being said, the Argentine appears keen to force a transfer before the end of the month and that could well launch any interested party into action.
It will not be a question of finances—the reported asking price is very reasonable for a player of his abilities. The real question is whether Arsenal really require a player with his skill set, or whether his price will simply prove too tempting.
There has seemingly been real interest from the Gunners and his latest antics may instigate a cut-price move. However, given Arsenal's recent history of their own players forcing exits, they may worry about his suitability as a signing.
For now, though, it appears to be simply hot air. Italy would appear to be a far more likely destination for Biglia this January, but football is rarely a straightforward industry to predict.
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