Arsenal Transfer News: Josip Drmic a Solid Value Target for Gunners

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistMarch 27, 2014

Nuremberg's Josip Drmic of Switzerland, right, and Bayern's Thiago Alcantara of Spain challenge for the ball during a   German first  division  soccer match between 1.FC Nuremberg and Bayern Munich in Nuremberg, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014.  (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
Michael Probst/Associated Press

One year after uncharacteristically spending big on a marquee name, and getting only mixed success, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger might return to plucking unheralded gems from the transfer market this summer.

That is what makes the link to Nurnberg striker Josip Drmic, reported by, so intriguing. The 21-year-old Switzerland international is right in Wenger's wheelhouse.

Drmic is one of the best kept secrets in the Bundesliga. He has found the net 15 times this season, according to, and also produced three assists.

That last stat is likely to encourage Wenger almost as much as Drmic's goals. It shows a level of technical flair Wenger insists all his attacking players possess.

As a cerebral, roving forward, Drmic would suit the brand of intricate and creative combination football Arsenal have made their calling card under Wenger's watch.

But it is two other qualities that recommend Drmic as a true value signing for the Gunners. He possesses the pace and range of movement Arsenal's limp attack has struggled to muster all season.

His game is defined by quick and clever runs between defensive lines. Playing between those lines via accurate through passes is the foundation of Wenger's philosophy.

But since Theo Walcott succumbed to a serious knee injury at the start of January, Arsenal's collection of midfield schemers haven't had much to aim for.

Most of that is due to towering target man Olivier Giroud's lack of pace and instinct.

The result has been congested, often static passages of passing with no final flourish. The Gunners' struggles to match their precise approach play with a finishing touch were obvious in the recent 2-2 home draw with Swansea City.

French journalist Philippe Auclair provided numbers that reveal how often Arsenal stalled in attacking positions:

To do that much good work in forward areas and not win a game only emphasizes how much Arsenal need a quality striker. Without good movement to aim for, possession loses focus and becomes predictable, usually deteriorating into a series of sideways, square passes.

Drmic would add a greater array of runs for Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky to supply. As a player capable of playing through the middle or out wide, the Nurnberg ace wouldn't have to replace Giroud.

The Frenchman's power and link player have provided a useful foil for Arsenal's technically astute maestros this season. Wenger, who has yet to officially sign a new contract, has also spoken about his desire to add a striker to play alongside Giroud, rather than replace him, per Amy Lawrence of The Guardian.

That was recently echoed by Gunners legend Robert Pires, per Sky Sports: "It's very important to buy the other striker because maybe you can play 4-4-2. The priority must be a new striker to play with Olivier Giroud."

Drmic would fit in Pires' vision of the team, or as part of the hybrid front three Wenger now employs, joining Giroud and Walcott.

Club legend Robert Pires has added his voice to those who believe Wenger must bolster Arsenal's attacking talent.
Club legend Robert Pires has added his voice to those who believe Wenger must bolster Arsenal's attacking talent.Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Of course, Nurnberg are keen to keep Drmic in Germany, having only signed the player last season. However, as ESPN Germany correspondent Stephan Uersfeld notes, the club's relegation from the Bundesliga would mean Drmic could leave for as little as €5 million.

Nurnberg are currently 14th in the league, a mere two points above the relegation places. Arsenal and their North London rival Tottenham Hotspur are waiting to pounce.

Given the Gunners' needs in defence and midfield, Wenger will have to spread his resources around more than he did last summer, when he paid £42.4 million to pry Ozil from Real Madrid.

Drmic isn't the headline-grabbing name many disgruntled Arsenal fans might demand. But he is the kind of hidden gem Wenger once made his reputation gambling on.


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