To cover that hypothetical scenario, here is a scouting report on Valbuena, a 29-year-old, 5'6", 128-pound French international.
Valbuena vs. Germany Grade: C+
Tasked with bypassing Germany's erratic defence, Valbuena looked classy in possession but did not score or create a goal in France's 1-0 defeat at the 2014 FIFA World Cup quarter-finals.
Looking to take advantage of German left-back Benedikt Howedes—who started at centre-back 84.2 percent of the time in the Bundesliga for Schalke last season—Valbuena hit a brick wall.
|Mathieu Valbuena||Toni Kroos|
|Pass Completion %||84||85|
German central attacking midfielder Toni Kroos made the play that turned the game—a lofted free-kick to German centre-back Mats Hummels.
Illustration: Mats Hummels scores to put Germany 1 - 0 up against France pic.twitter.com/KYLxPOzvtL— Richard Swarbrick (@RikkiLeaks) July 4, 2014
Meanwhile, Valbuena came up short.
Pauvre Valbuena... 😂 pic.twitter.com/qnQCATic7Y— Arcadio Marcuzzi (@_marcuzzi) July 4, 2014
Balanced, creative and mobile, Valbuena ran Marseille's attack.
Last season, he led Ligue 1 in passes leading to scoring chances per game (2.6), edging out Monaco central attacking midfielder James Rodriguez (2.5).
Mathieu Valbuena: No player has created more chances in a Ligue 1 match than Valbuena did (8) last night vs Montpellier #OM— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) April 12, 2014
Possessing deep range, Valbuena unlocked Valenciennes' defence with a long-pass to Marseille right attacking midfielder Florian Thauvin.
Changing pace, Valbuena accelerated away from Guingamp right winger Claudio Beauvue and delivered a perfect cross to Marseille left attacking midfielder Andre Ayew.
Leading a fast-break, Valbuena dashed deep into Toulouse's defensive half and delivered a pin-point pass to Marseille left attacking midfielder Dimitri Payet.
Taking advantage of then-Saint-Etienne (now Napoli) left-back Faouzi Ghoulam being out of position and then-Saint-Etienne (now Chelsea) centre-back Kurt Zouma not being close enough to contest the cross , Valbuena created a goal for Marseille left-back Benjamin Mendy.
There were 19 Arsenal players who averaged more tackles per game (0.8 plus) than Valbuena (0.7) last season.
When Valbuena went in for a tackle, he lost out 69 percent of the time, per Squawka.com.
Valbuena is a defensive liability.
While Valbuena's technique is creme de la creme, he is a volume shooter, scoring three times from 47 shots in Ligue 1 last season.
Valbuena is open to a move away from Marseille despite the club being a big Ligue 1 team, according to comments made by his agent, Jean-Pierre Bernes, on French radio station Europe 1 (h/t Sky Sports).
That has opened the door for Valencia, per talkSPORT.
Yes, Valbuena lacks upside being 29 years of age, but Andrey Arshavin (27), Davor Suker (31) and Santi Cazorla (27) are examples of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger buying experienced attackers.
|League Only||Assists||Key Passes Per Game||Passes Per Game||Pass Completion %|
Valbuena is an elegant midfielder with world-class playmaking ability.
He is Arsenal quality and would enhance Wenger's squad depth as a rotation midfielder, so management should consider an attempt to hijack Valencia's current bid for Valbuena.
Statistics via WhoScored.com