Morgan Schneiderlin is perfect for the defensive midfield role at Arsenal, but as reported by Simon Jones of the Daily Mail, the Southampton star is ready to pick Tottenham ahead of their North London rivals:
Arsene Wenger is a confirmed admirer of the 24-year-old France international and Arsenal have opened discussions over a proposed move to bring him to The Emirates - but Schneiderlin wants to re-join former boss Mauricio Pochettino instead.
Such a move would be a mistake for Schneiderlin. He is a ready-made solution to a position that currently possesses a lack of challengers at Arsenal, where he could walk into the team and improve it immediately. At Spurs, Schneiderlin would likely fill more of a rotational role, he will miss out on Champions League football and challenge for silverware less often.
Wenger is keen to search for new players, saying, "I'm happy with the business I've done until now but it's not over," reported by Sky Sports.
While Alexis Sanchez and Mathieu Debuchy are excellent signings for the club, there's still a couple of gaps to be filled. Supporters should expect another out-and-out striker to challenge Olivier Giroud, and they will want to see a specialist defensive midfielder plug the centre behind an increasingly exciting attack.
Although Sami Khedira is linked, reported by Aaron Flanagan of the Mirror, Schneiderlin represents a useful alternative.
He is a player who finished fifth on the 2013-14 season's tackles list, producing an average of 3.4 per match, recorded by WhoScored.com. Schneiderlin was also in the top-20 passers and completed 89.3 percent of his attempts throughout the campaign, with Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker and Mathieu Flamini the only Arsenal players to surpass his accuracy. He is a natural battler, tidy and looking to improve.
Arsenal currently possess no midfielder who can challenge Schneiderlin in his mopping-up role. Flamini is the closest threat out of those who maintain fitness, as consistent injuries ensure you can never count on Abou Diaby, despite his quality. Flamini's lack of physicality ensures he is overwhelmed during physical battles, even though he isn't one to back down.
Schneiderlin isn't the tallest, standing in at just over 5'11" according to WhoScored.com, but he is an absolute grafter. He is a thinker—someone who concentrates on the task at hand—and flaunts the desire to win possession in all situations. Schneiderlin's instincts ensures there is a presence about his play, something which could knock Mikel Arteta out of the team, as noted by Jan Molby on Eurosport:
They have an awful lot of midfield players at the moment and Arteta looks vulnerable in the first XI. Wenger has realised that increasingly it’s a running game in midfield and you have to be able to get around. You have to have many qualities.
With this in mind, it becomes obvious Schneiderlin's game would offer something unique in Arsenal's squad. This is a player whose willingness to battle came before he learned to distribute possession excellently, perhaps a rarity in the current Gunners line-up. That said, Schneiderlin would face an increased battle for first-team football at Spurs with the real prospect of receiving less reward.
Mauricio Pochettino currently has Mousa Dembele, Paulinho, Etienne Capoue, Sandro and Nabil Bentaleb at his disposal, all of whom can fulfill the Schneiderlin role of clearing up through the centre. Spurs' midfield is stacked, with most of these players failing to make a consistently positive impression due to rotation and general poor form throughout the team.
Despite his quality, Schneiderlin's development will stutter if he is forced to slug it out with the aforementioned names for a place in the first team. The Pochettino factor may be key—the pair enjoyed an excellent relationship at St. Mary's—but Arsenal offer so much more right from the off.
He would bring something new to the Emirates, further his chances of international recognition in Europe's elite competition, and signal a transitional moment for the Gunners' centre.
At the age of 24, this is far more welcoming than adding to a pile of talent who failed to meet their potential at Spurs last season. Schneiderlin's next move could be a career-definer, so he needs to think carefully.