Arsenal Transfer News: Hakan Calhanoglu a Savvy Target for Gunners

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistMay 25, 2014

Hamburg's Hakan Calhanoglu of Turkey, left, and Leverkusen's Sidney Sam challenge for the ball during the German first division Bundesliga soccer match between Bayer Leverkusen and Hamburg SV in Leverkusen, Germany, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Frank Augstein/Associated Press

He's not Cesc Fabregas, but Hakan Calhanoglu is actually a midfield target who makes sense for Arsenal. Snaring the young Hamburg star would be a savvy piece of transfer business from Gunners boss Arsene Wenger.

According to Anthony Chapman of the Daily ExpressWenger is keen on the 20-year-old Turkish international. Chapman notes Chelsea gaffer Jose Mourinho is also an interested party.

On the face of it, Calhanoglu is yet another cultured attacking midfielder Arsenal don't need. After all, Wenger can currently call on Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky.

As well as that trio of natural No. 10s, the Gunners boast young stars such as Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey. Considering Wenger might also be able to rely on Abou Diaby and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain next season, it's tough to see where Calhanoglu would actually fit.

But a closer look at both Arsenal's midfield ranks and the player shows there is room for this budding young star. For one thing, age is becoming a factor in key areas.

Cazorla is now 29, while Rosicky is 33. The latter is in one-year rolling mode when it comes to new contracts and probably doesn't have that long left at the top level.

Going further back, ostensible holding players Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta are both closer to the end of their careers than the beginning. Arteta has become a scapegoat among sections of Arsenal fans this season.

Assigning scapegoat status is a favorite pastime of certain supporters, and it is not entirely justified in Arteta's case. These are, after all, likely the same fans who castigated Aaron Ramsey for two years prior to this season.

Arteta is still a key leader and a capable midfield playmaker. But his qualities aside, Wenger will be anxious to identify a suitable replacement for the 32-year-old sooner rather than later.

Mikel Arteta may not have long left as an Arsenal player.
Mikel Arteta may not have long left as an Arsenal player.Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Arteta has just one year left on his current deal and is reportedly attracting interest from Serie A side Fiorentina, per Joe Bernstein of the Daily Mail. Meanwhile, 30-year-old Flamini is not a regular starter and will soon face a decision about his future.

While Calhanoglu is primarily an advanced midfield schemer, he can be molded into a player who bridges the gap between defensive and attacking areas. He has the engine and technical guile to succeed in a more withdrawn role.

As an added bonus, Chapman notes Calhanoglu can also operate wide. Wenger has often deployed central players on the flanks since the days of Robert Pires roaming the left side.

Cazorla has played there for most of his first two seasons at Arsenal. Perhaps Wenger might see Calhanoglu as a long-term successor to the pint-sized Spanish trickster.

Calhanoglu's 11 goals this season prove he is capable of adding greater scoring potential to a midfield that was blunted when Ramsey was sidelined with injury for nearly four months.

Hakan Calhanoglu's Statistical Breakdown
GoalsAssistsKey PassesShotsTacklesInterceptions

Calhanoglu's creative touch and underrated physicality make him ideal for Wenger's style of play. He is also eager to take a step up in his career, per Chapman:

I told them [Hamburg] that I want to go - no matter whether we play in the first or second division.

I would definitely leave Hamburg. The fact is, I want to play in Europe and I want to make my parents happy.

I want to go as far as Ronaldo and Messi. I want to be a world star.

He is valued at just over £6 million by That's a bargain fee for a player with such obvious potential.

Calhanoglu is not a primary need for Arsenal. But snatching him from Mourinho's grasp to add some youth and verve to a midfield rotation in need of a refresh, would be a smart play from Wenger.


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