Arsenal Transfer Rumours: 6 Players Who Could Replace Cesc Fabregas in Midfield

Matthew CelentanoFeatured ColumnistAugust 3, 2011

Arsenal Transfer Rumours: 6 Players Who Could Replace Cesc Fabregas in Midfield

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    World Football's biggest transfer saga continues in the summer of 2011, as speculation once again surrounds the always possible move of Cesc Fabregas to his boyhood club, Barcelona. 

    Fabregas' 2010/11 campaign with Arsenal was ridden with injuries and poor performances, as his leadership abilities and dedication to the club were constantly under question. This season especially, Cesc's heart seemed to be more at the Nou Camp than at the Emirates.

    Arsenal have put a 40-50 million pound price tag on their skipper, an amount that may be too much for Barcelona's budget. However, in the event that Pep Guardiola finally makes a bid for Fabregas that pleases Arsene Wenger, here are the six players that Arsenal could use to replace their World Cup winning captain.

Juan Manuel Mata

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    Juan Mata has been one of the summer's hottest transfer prospects, with many clubs in the race to gain his signature. Arsene Wenger is reportedly very close to signing the young Spanish winger, in a deal that would break the club's transfer record.

    Providing this deal comes through, it would be a very smart move by Arsene Wenger. Mata could be one of the few players who can realistically help fill the gap that Fabregas' departure would create.

    The Spaniard's main strengths are creativity and intelligence, as well as being able to accurately place his passes. His intelligence as a player is displayed with cheeky one-two passes and through balls that can give a team an edge, making their play just a bit more unpredictable.

    Juan Mata is the perfect Arsenal signing. He's young, he's got incredible potential and, above all, he's talented. On top of all that, if Wenger signed the young Spaniard it would show the Arsenal boss' desire to succeed and a new ruthlessness in the transfer market.

Mario Gotze

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    Mario Gotze is another youngster with the world at his feet. At age 19, he cruised through the Bundesliga this season with his six goals and 11 assists, helping Borussia Dortmund to the Bundesliga title as well as Champions League football.

    Gotze's play is similar to Samir Nasri's. The two clearly have incredible dribbling skills, using their ability to get around defenders before sending in a well-placed pass to the strikers. Gotze has a solid shot on him and can finish cooly in front of goal when needed.

    He's extremely young, and one of the reasons why he's the biggest transfer prospect in the Bundesliga is because he has tons of potential to become one of the best German playmakers of his day. Whatever club he joins he'll undoubtedly bring success to in the future, especially to a club like Arsenal where he's in an environment filled with other substantial attackers.  

    Gotze's skills would add a new dimension to Arsenal's attack, and if he linked together with Gervinho and Nasri, or Wilshere and Ramsey, Arsenal could have an attacking midfield that's unstoppable as well as unpredictable.

    At the end of the day, signing Gotze would be taking a huge step towards replacing the Arsenal skipper.

Samir Nasri

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    As mentioned in the previous slide, Mario Gotze and Samir Nasri have similar playing styles; the two together can form a partnership that will dominate the Premiership.

    However, it's impossible to ignore the speculation about Samir Nasri's possible departure to one of the Manchester clubs or even one of the Milan clubs. The young Frenchman's future is very much up in the air, and with Nasri rejecting Arsenal's many contract offers, it's looking like Arsenal need to win a trophy this season in order to keep their young starlet at the Emirates.

    But let's assume Arsenal do win a piece of silverware. Let's say the Gunners pull off a win in one of the domestic cups, getting the trophy drought monkey off of their backs, thus convincing Nasri to sign a new contract in North London.

    At age 24, Samir Nasri could potentially be the future of the club and is already beginning to fill the boots of Cesc Fabregas. He captained a few matches this season, including the Gunners' 4-1 win over Spurs at White Hart Lane in the Carling Cup, where Nasri converted two penalties within four minutes.

    Samir Nasri continues to get better each year, with every season being better than the last. If Arsenal can convince him to stay at the Emirates, the Gunners might just have their replacement for Fabregas right in their very own squad.

Yoann Gourcuff

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    Yoann Gourcuff is simply an excellent all-around player. He's got all of the qualities that a midfielder for Arsenal needs, and he seems like a player that can really be one of the "hubs" of the team, controlling the play with his fellow midfielders.

    Gourcuff has a very smart footballing mind. He's creative and can either dribble around the defenders marking him or place a pinpoint pass to a teammate. He also has an incredible shot, which he has displayed on some instances where he scores from way outside of the 18-yard box. 

    On top of all that, Gourcuff is French—and we all know Arsene Wenger has a thing for signing players from his own home country. Because of Gourcuff's French origin, he would easily integrate into an Arsenal squad with heavy French culture, taking no time to adjust.

    At 25 years of age, Gourcuff isn't as young as other players on this list. However, that also means that in a few years' time the Frenchman will be hitting his prime.

    If Arsenal can grab Gourcuff and have him playing the best football of his career at the Emirates Stadium, then the Gunners can definitely ease the wound that Fabregas' departure would create. 

Jack Wilshere/Aaron Ramsey

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    Jack Wilshere has established himself as the best 19-year-old footballer in the world. He had the best season of his career so far, getting a regular spot in the Arsenal first team, being voted Man of the Match against Barcelona and easily being the Gunners' best player of the season.

    On the other hand, Aaron Ramsey was on the same path as his fellow teammate before a devastating tackle from Ryan Sharcross (who else?) broke the Welshman's leg, sidelining him from the first team for about a year. Before the injury, Ramsey was just beginning to cement a spot in the first team and was proving to be an attacking threat in the midfield.

    Many doubted that Ramsey would be able to pick up where he left off before his injury so quickly, but he proved them wrong, scoring the winner against Manchester United in one of his first matches back with the first team. Ramsey has already proved this summer that he's back on track to becoming a regular at Arsenal with two goals and an assist to his name this preseason.

    Together, Wilshere and Ramsey could form an incredible playmaking partnership in the midfield. They both have a superb vision of the pitch, picking out impressive passes with ease.

    Wilshere has a never-say-die attitude that the Gunners so desperately lacked this season, while Ramsey tends to think outside of the box with his attacks and can stray off from the "predictable" Arsenal attacks—a quality that's extremely important to Arsenal's game. Additionally, the two both have very smart footballing minds, with tons of creativity and intelligence regarding the game. 

    Many Arsenal fans have anticipated this attacking midfield partnership and have high hopes for its success in coming seasons. These two players together along with an abundance of attacking firepower at Arsenal could give the Gunners an even better attack than they already have in coming seasons.

    While Wilshere is bound to be the next Arsenal captain in five years' time, Ramsey has already been selected for the captain of Wales at age 20. The two clearly obtain leadership skills and together can be the spearhead of the Arsenal midfield in the future, proving to be a brilliant replacement for Cesc Fabregas.

Joey Barton

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    Hold up. Before I get an earful about Barton's criminal record, or his off-pitch attitude, just hear me out.

    For those who haven't heard of the Internet, Newcastle have recently expressed that they are allowing Joey Barton to leave the club on a free transfer, gaining the attention of quite a few clubs, including Arsenal, as reported by Goal.com.

    In my opinion, signing Joey Barton would pretty much be perfect for Arsenal. First of all, he's free, so there's really no price negotiating involved—an upside for a penny-pincher like Arsene Wenger. But the reason why signing Barton would be a good move has nothing to do with money at all, it has to do with what Barton would bring to the squad.

    Now, if you watched the Emirates Cup, you probably noticed that Arsenal were massively reluctant to shoot, even when the player with the ball (cough cough, van Persie) was completely through on goal.

    But Joey Barton is definitely a player who's not afraid to take a shot from outside of the 18-yard box, and a majority of the time he'll hit the target or even score. This quality would give a lot more depth to Arsenal's play, as right now the Gunners often try to walk the ball into the net.

    Joey Barton also has an exceptional vision of the game, something that he's usually not given credit for. He's an excellent crosser, with some of his flighted passes being jaw-droppingly accurate. Arsenal currently lack a player that can consistently send in well-aimed crosses; signing Joey Barton would increase the quality of Arsenal's wing play by a lot.

    Another vital element that Joey Barton would bring to the Arsenal squad is physicality. This was something that Arsenal clearly lacked in the midfield this season, and a rough, experienced English player like Barton is very much needed among Arsenal's ranks. He can instill a tougher mentality into the squad that will ultimately translate into winning trophies.

    All of these qualities add together to make a player who proves to be a solid replacement for Cesc Fabregas. He may not seem as exciting as other options out there, like say Eden Hazard or Thiago Alacantara, but his raw toughness and playmaking skills would make him an ideal replacement for the Arsenal captain.