Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is wisely contemplating a late swoop for Wolfsburg's Luiz Gustavo. The Brazilian defensive midfielder represents an excellent potential addition at a position of concern.
Better still, Wenger is smartly preparing to ditch underwhelming forward Lukas Podolski. The German, who arrived in the summer of 2012, has failed to emulate international form for the Gunners.
In fact, Wenger could pull off a major coup by engineering a swap deal for Gustavo by offering Podolski in trade. That would be a quite brilliant move from the Frenchman.
Here's the latest on this possible development:
Gunners Could Swap Podolski for Gustavo
Arsene Wenger has made a check on Brazilian World Cup star Luiz Gustavo.
Wenger sent scouts to check on the Wolfsburg midfielder in their Bundesliga opener, a 2-1 defeat away to champions Bayern Munich.
Wolfsburg are keen on Arsenal forward Lukas Podolski – and that could even raise the chance of a player-plus-cash deal.
This would represent superb business from Wenger. For one thing, his squad needs a player with Gustavo's rugged qualities and natural versatility.
The 27-year-old is a fierce tackler, one who never shies away from a collision if it means winning the ball. Arsenal lack that kind of physicality in the middle while ageing schemer Mikel Arteta selflessly adopts the holding role.
But just as important as his more robust qualities, Gustavo's general positional sense is excellent. He's rarely not perfectly placed to stymie a counter attack.
That's a trait Arsenal's current midfield scrapper, Mathieu Flamini, doesn't possess. While the Frenchman is tenacious covering ground and harassing opponents in the middle, he can let himself be too easily drawn away from defensive areas.
Many fans and pundits would contend defensive midfield is the one position where the Gunners are most short of quality. However, it's sometimes too easy to blame all of Arsenal's woes on the lack of desirable options at the position.
For instance, Everton's impressive two-goal salvo in the first half of Arsenal's recent 2-2 draw at Goodison Park shouldn't all be attributed to problems at the base of midfield.
The Toffees' second goal is the prime example. The success of the quick break that led to Everton strikers Romelu Lukaku and Steven Naismith combining to score had little do with a defensive midfielder.
It was simply down to cardinal mistakes by Arsenal's two centre-backs. First, usually dependable veteran Per Mertesacker allowed himself to be drawn out of position by Lukaku. He then inexplicably lunged for a ball he wasn't guaranteed to win.
To compound matters, eager youngster Calum Chambers soon left his feet and dived in. The 19-year-old's reckless lunge was easily avoided by Lukaku, who was then able to run free.
At the start of the move, the numbers were three on three—in terms of defenders and attackers—including Flamini. It was only basic errors that allowed that goal.
However, there can be little doubt that Arsenal would be better prepared for many teams if they had a more powerful presence in the middle. Whether that's a traditional holding player like Gustavo remains to be seen.
He can certainly win the physical battles. However, as Germany's 7-1 demolition of Brazil in the 2014 FIFA World Cup semi-final showed, Gustavo, like any holding player, can be bypassed by multiple forward-breaking runners.
Ideally, Arsenal would be better served by finding a rugged, box-to-box runner to complement the efforts of talisman Aaron Ramsey. Real Madrid's Germany international Sami Khedira would be the perfect choice.
Sadly, his exit from the Santiago Bernabeu appears to have been ruled out by manager Carlo Ancelotti, per BBC Sport. In that case, a natural defensive anchor such as Gustavo would be a smart alternative.
That's especially true when considering his ability to fill in at centre-back. The Gunners aren't exactly loaded with cover at that position.
Only Chambers is available to back up Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny. Having a player like Gustavo available would strengthen two positions. That's the kind of deal Wenger loves.
However, this is where Podolski can make himself useful. The 29-year-old Germany international is attracting interest from the Bundesliga, according to Dominic Fifield, of The Guardian:
Podolski’s contract does not expire until 2016 but he has found himself reduced to a peripheral role at the Emirates. Juve may prefer to take him on a season-long loan, though Arsenal will push for a permanent deal worth up to £10m, with interest having also coming from Bundesliga sides such as Bayer Leverkusen and Wolfsburg.
While a move to Juventus would offer Podolski UEFA Champions League football, the player himself may prefer a return to Germany. Podolski has made regular hints that he hopes to return home.
Back in May, he suggested an eventual move back to former club FC Koln, per Daily Express reporter Charles Perrin. Podolski added weight to those claims this month, when he penned a letter about his time at the club, which earned a full-page spread in German newspaper Bild (h/t MailOnline writer Matt Morlidge).
Wenger should take advantage of Podolski's desire to return to Germany and try to tempt Wolfsburg into a swap deal. His squad has enough resources up front to comfortably part with Podolski.
The forward has struggled to command a regular place with the Gunners, largely due to a poor work ethic leading to inconsistent form. Wenger has so far used the summer window to sign FC Barcelona attacker Alexis Sanchez and bring back young loan ace Joel Campbell.
That duo joins Olivier Giroud, Yaya Sanogo and Theo Walcott. This group gives Wenger ample options along the forward line.
The only drawback to selling Podolski is the possible impact on squad morale. Clearly a likeable character, he helps lift the spirits of the group. Podolski is obviously close friends with fellow Gunners and international teammates Mertesacker and Mesut Ozil.
However, this squad generally seems to be a tight-knit bunch. It should survive Podolski's exit without too much trouble.
Swapping a misfiring forward for a natural defensive midfielder like Gustavo, who can also play deeper, would be a great way for Wenger to conclude a summer of solid transfer business.
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