Geoffrey Kondogbia to Arsenal: Why Wenger Should Go Big on Sevilla Star Transfer
Arsenal are yet to make any significant moves in the summer transfer window, with young French striker Yaya Sanogo the only incoming deal completed so far.
While many of the transfer rumours regarding the Gunners seem to centre on strikers, there are also reports of Sevilla midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia being on Arsene Wenger's wish list, as per Sky Sports.
However, Sevilla boss Unai Emery has recently stated that he hopes the combative French midfielder will remain at the La Liga club this season, according to soccernews.com.
Any deal for Kondogbia to move to Arsenal seems a long way off then, but it's certainly a deal that Wenger should be continuing to pursue this summer.
Central midfielder that Arsenal have lacked
It's been a case of "same old story" for Arsenal in midfield for quite some time now. Technically impressive, fast in transitions and great at supporting the attacking play, the Gunners' centre of the park contributes heavily to turnover and attacking phases of play.
Defending their own penalty area, however, there are still concerns.
Mikel Arteta is not a defensive midfielder, nor is Aaron Ramsey. Abou Diaby brings physicality to a relatively weak centre of the park, but his fitness issues mean he can hardly be counted on.
A destroyer type might not be imperative in every game Arsenal play in, but there can be little argument that they have lacked that kind of player to call upon when it really matters. Bringing in Kondogbia—and paying the large fee that would accompany him—wouldn't make much sense if he could only perform a ball-winning midfield role, but the 20-year-old has already proven himself much more than that.
Kondogbia can certainly play that defensive role and his statistics from last season indicate he will excel there. He won a greater percentage of his tackles than Arteta and committed fewer fouls per game than the Spaniard, as well as having a better aerial duels win rate than any of Arsenal's three deepest midfielders.
However, his pass rate was also exemplary, comparable with Diaby and Ramsey at 87 percent success, and he made nine key passes, with one assist, from what was a very deep role at Sevilla.
Wenger needs to make a statement in the market
Here's one undeniable thought: Arsenal need to show their strength this summer. It will be viewed—by fans, players and third parties alike—as a missed opportunity should they not spend money in this transfer window to improve the squad while Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City bring in new managers.
Wenger has the money to spend, but so far Arsenal continue to show a measure of prudence which precludes them from signing any of the top players who have been available this summer, or even the players just below top level who have inflated prices.
While this saves Arsenal from overpaying, it also prevents them from significantly improving the squad and sends out a message to other teams that the Gunners are not aggressive in the transfer market.
Kondogbia can provide platform for attackers to flourish
And so to the actual on-pitch, tangible benefit.
Presuming Kondogbia would be played in the defensive midfield, but not limited, role as mentioned above, he would not only offer greater protection to Arsenal's defence, but also provide the security and the consistency to allow Arsenal's attack to do their greatest damage.
Jack Wilshere is a formidable all-round midfielder, but there can be little doubt that he does his best work in the middle-to-final thirds areas of the pitch, not in deeper spaces.
Should he be allowed to rove forward more often, safe in the knowledge that Kondogbia has his back, and the same applies to Santi Cazorla or Theo Walcott, Arsenal will both improve their offensive weaponry and be more solid defensively.
It might necessitate a slight change in emphasis in the midfield shape to get the best out of all his players—Arteta and Wilshere central ahead of Kondogbia, Cazorla left, for example—but the potential for interchanging positions and better buildup play is significant because of the greater protection behind them.
Signing Kondogbia might cost Arsenal a lot of money, but he's certainly proving worth the outlay already in his short career, and an improvement on the defensive side of midfield now could have a big impact on Arsenal's attack next season.
Statistical data and images from Squawka.com
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