Scouting Report: Josuha Guilavogui Arsenal's Javi Martinez Transfer Alternative?

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentMay 9, 2014

Arsenal are open to signing Bayern Munich centre-back/defensive midfielder Javi Martinez, per Jeremy Wilson at The Telegraph. Should the transfer not eventuate in the summer window, one alternative could be Atletico Madrid's Saint-Etienne loanee Josuha Guilavogui, so here is a scouting report on the 23-year-old French international. 


Martinez Leaving?

Bayern manager Pep Guardiola is struggling to appease Martinez, who is unnerved, speaking his mind and is cognisant that if he does not force a change to his situation, he will go down as the biggest waste of money in Bundesliga history. 

Now you understand why he was initially apprehensive of his €40/£31.6 million valuation. 

"I see it as too much money for me," Martinez said, per Mundo Deportivo (h/t ESPN). "I do not think that I'm worth €40 million."

Luiz Gustavo, a utility player like Martinez, felt unappreciated at Bayern, which was pointed out by Brazilian national team manager Luiz Felipe Scolari.

"[Scolari] spoke his mind and that helped me find a decision," Gustavo said, per Stephan Uersfeld at ESPN FC. "[Wolfsburg] wanted me from the very beginning. That is the reason, I am here."

Torsten Frings, who appeared 79 times for the German national team, had a myriad of issues at Bayern.

He was overawed by the media attention. 

"At Bayern you have to be available for the papers and TV every day and that's what I am not keen on at all," Frings said, per Thomas Zeh at Sky Sports. "I am a calm guy and don't need this hurly-burly."

Then there was Felix Magath.

"Magath did give me some backing, but not 100 percent and that's what I was missing," Frings said, per Zeh at Sky Sports. "I want to play in my favourite position like I do in the national team and that's in the centre of midfield, but Magath didn't see me there and that's why I left."

Martinez is riddled with discontent, like Gustavo and Frings were. 

"I don't have as much freedom on the field anymore," Martinez said, per tz (h/t James Thorogood at "I don't get forward as often and my game is a little more static."

Gustavo played three seasons. Frings was one-and-done.

If Martinez's working conditions do not improve, there will be an unsavoury showdown with Guardiola.

In that scenario, Bayern will sell Martinez to the highest bidder with the aim of recouping as much of the €40 million transfer fee spent to sign him from Athletic Bilbao. 

Say Arsenal are unwilling to flex their financial muscle, a cheaper alternative could be Guilavogui.


Stock Down

Guilavogui would not be giving you a thumbs up if you asked him about his experience at Atleti so far. 

Signed from Saint-Etienne for €10 million with financial assistance via Doyen Sports, per Dermot Corrigan at ESPN FC, Guilavogui's transfer stock has plummeted after only making one appearance in La Liga.

Gabi, Tiago and Mario Suarez are three reasons why Guilavogui failed to break into Diego Simeone's La Liga contending squad this season. 

Guilavogui was loaned back to Saint-Etienne in the January transfer window.

After nine Ligue 1 games, Guilavogui's season was prematurely ended due to a hamstring injury, per FourFourTwo

In hindsight, he made the wrong decision to sign with Atleti.

There are parallels with Patrick Vieira ambitiously moving from Cannes to AC Milan, only to spend his days following Demetrio Albertini "like a shadow" in training, per Neil McLeman at the Mirror



Guilavogui has excellent physical tangibles at 6'2" and 170 pounds. 

He is an athletic, overpowering and vigorous central midfielder who reads opposing players well. 

  • Nine interceptions vs. Marseille last season, per
  • Seven interceptions vs. Rennes last season, per
  • Five interceptions vs. Nice this season, per

Guilavogui has developed into a dependable, safe and viable passing outlet, registering a combined 85.3 pass completion percentage in his last two seasons at Saint-Etienne. 

He has flashed attacking ability like playing with then Saint-Etienne right attacking midfielder Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (now with Borussia Dortmund) against Bastia.

Guilavogui showed textbook technique when he curled the ball past Bastia goalkeeper Mickael Landreau.

You can see why Atleti management were high on Guilavogui and they banked on his upside. 



Guilavogui lacks focus, does not regularly dominate games, is prone to mistakes and demonstrates questionable football IQ. 

Last season, his red card against Lille was the by-product of two unnecessary, rash and ill-thought-out challenges. 

He cut down Lille central midfielder Florent Balmont and then followed through on central midfielder Rio Mavuba while on a yellow card. 

This season, Guilavogui tried to grab the ball as if he was in a rugby line-out against Lorient, conceding one of the daftest penalties you will ever see. 

Guilavogui needs to refine his tackling. 

It took one simple stop-start move from Lyon centre-forward Bafetimbi Gomis to evade Guilavogui's tackle. 

There are 97 players in Ligue 1 who average more tackles per game (1.9 plus) than Guilavogui (1.8).


Bottom Line

Signing Martinez is what rational Gooners have been doing on FIFA 14 or football manager since he is world-class, adds height, strength, metronomic passing and will shield Arsenal's back four. 

However, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has always operated on his own terms, not what the fans think.

If Bayern price Wenger out of signing Martinez, then enticing Atleti to cut their losses on Guilavogui is a realistic alternative. 

Simeone is a "what can you do for me now" type of manager.

Guilavogui was not ready for Atleti this season, as was the case with Javier Manquillo, Jose Gimenez, Leo Baptistao, Oliver Torres and Saul Niguez. 

Wenger might be willing to take on Guilavogui as another project. 

That is what happened in 1996 when Wenger instructed Arsenal to sign Vieira, a squad player under then-Milan manager Fabio Capello. 

Vieira played 406 games for Arsenal and captained the Invincibles. 



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