Should Arsenal Sign Sami Khedira or Tolgay Arslan?

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Should Arsenal Sign Sami Khedira or Tolgay Arslan?
Martin Rose/Getty Images

Real Madrid central midfielder Sami Khedira's summer transfer to Arsenal is in the balance, so should Arsene Wenger consider signing Hamburg's Tolgay Arslan?

Arsenal want to sign Khedira, per Gary Jacob and Matt Hughes at The Times (subscription required), but what about Arslan? 

To cover the hypothetical scenario of Arsenal targeting Arslan, here is a scouting report on the 23-year-old 5'11", 170-pound German-Turk. 

Credit: Kicker.de

 

Arslan Positives

Able to instantly cushion the ball, Arslan scrutinises the field and makes prompt decisions. 

He is a more precise passer compared to a then-23-year-old Khedira at Stuttgart.

League Only Tolgay Arslan 2013-14 Sami Khedira 2009-10 Sami Khedira 2013-14
Passes Per Game 42.7 40.8 43.3
Pass Completion % 85.6 79.8 86.5
Long-Pass Completion % 76.4 69.4 84.6
Assists 4 5 1
Key Passes Per Game 0.9 1.4 0.9

In four years' time, Arslan could eclipse Khedira from a passing perspective. 

Upon controlling the ball against Eintracht Frankfurt, Arslan instantly identified the situation and executed a shrewd play.  

  • Eintracht Frankfurt centre-back Carlos Zambrano and then-Eintracht Frankfurt (now Wolfsburg) right-back Sebastian Jung both attempted to cut off Arslan's pass. 
  • Zambrano reverted back into position, but Arslan exposed Jung with a diagonal pass to a wide-open Hamburg left-back Marcell Jansen. 
  • Advantage Hamburg.

Credit: Bundesliga.com

There is an Ilkay Gundogan-esque demeanour to Arslan when he is passing the ball, as exhibited with an elegant defence-splitting ball against Borussia Dortmund to Hamburg centre-forward Pierre-Michel Lasogga.

Credit: Bundesliga.com

Luring Stuttgart goalkeeper Thorsten Kirschbaum out and setting up Lasogga with an instep-pass was classy and stylish. 

Credit: Bundesliga.com

Moreover, Arslan can tighten up his passing discipline.

He completed 52/55 passes against Hoffenheim in his side's 5-1 defeat last season, per FourFourTwo.

He has the capacity to sit in midfield and distribute with Mikel Arteta-like efficiency. 

Credit: FourFourTwo.com

Arslan consistently uses his lively first step to make inroads.

This was evident when he completed eight take-ons against Wolfsburg in November 2013, per FourFourTwo.

Credit: FourFourTwo.com
Credit: Bundesliga.com

Like Arsenal utility player Jack Wilshere, Arslan loves to dribble in confined spaces, whereas Khedira times his box-to-box runs to coincide with defensive breakdowns.

No Arsenal player pulled off more dribbles than Arslan (89), who also drew 80 fouls. 

Arslan completed more successful take-ons per 90 minutes (3.24) than Wilshere (2.36) and Khedira (0.65) combined (3.01), per Squawka.com.

Credit: Squawka.com

Being a creative passer and a lethal dribbler is why Arslan has filled in as a central attacking midfielder. 

Credit: Bundesliga.com

Defensively, Arslan is noticeably a more prolific ball-winner than Khedira, who has not averaged 2.3 tackles per league game or more in his last five seasons. 

League Only Tolgay Arslan 2013-14 Sami Khedira 2009-10 Sami Khedira 2013-14
Tackles Per Game 2.3 1.4 1.1
Fouls Per Game 1.7 0.7 1.2
Tackles Per Foul 1.4 2.1 0.9
Interceptions Per Game 1.4 1.8 1.0
Possessions Won Back Per Game 3.7 3.2 2.1

Credit: Squawka.com

 

Arslan Negatives

Statistically speaking, Arslan was solid in the 2013-14 season, so estimates his Kicker's Bundesliga player ranking out of 215 players. 

Somewhere between 50-100, right?

Well, that is about 109-159 spots off. Even Johan Djourou (208) ranked above Arslan (209). 

Credit: Kicker.de

Bild were harsher, ranking Arslan 229/233 Bundesliga players.

Credit: Bild.de

Despite Arslan's talent on the ball, he only averaged 0.9 key passes per game last season. 

In terms of controlling the tempo of play, there were 60 players who averaged more passes per game (42.8 plus) in the Bundesliga than Arslan (42.7). 

When Arslan played as a pivot or a central midfielder, he struggled defensively. 

He was at fault when Hoffenheim central attacking midfielder Roberto Firmino scored. 

Credit: Bundesliga.com

Arslan gave up on a play enabling Hannover 96 utility player Lars Stindl to race towards Hamburg's penalty box unmarked. 

Credit: Bundesliga.com

Bayer Leverkusen's Eintracht Braunschweig loanee Karim Bellarabi deftly dribbled around Arslan. 

Credit: Bundesliga.com

Arslan's tackles lost, aerial duels won and fouls committed per 90 minutes were all worse than Khedira's, per Squawka.com.

Credit: Squawka.com

 

Bottom Line

You might be disturbed by Bild and Kicker slating Arslan, but keep in mind that Khedira was ranked the 175th-best player during the 2007-08 Bundesliga season, per Kicker

Credit: Kicker.de

Now Khedira, 27, is a FIFA World Cup winner for Germany and has played for Real Madrid since 2010.

Khedira, a world-class footballer, should be one of Wenger's primary transfer targets, though Arslan has a higher upside being four years younger.

A polished passer and a lethal dribbler, Arslan might end up being a better long-term signing than Khedira. 

 

@allanjianga

Statistics via WhoScored.com

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