Arsenal Transfer Rumours: Pros and Cons of Signing Yann M'Vila

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentMay 11, 2012

Arsenal Transfer Rumours: Pros and Cons of Signing Yann M'Vila

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    Arsenal are closing in on a £17.7 million deal for Rennes defensive midfielder Yann M'Vila, according to Jeremy Wilson at The Telegraph.

    However, Arsène Wenger said Arsenal were not even in negotiations with Rennes for M'Vila.

    Either way, let's discuss the pros and cons of Arsenal signing M'Vila.

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Pro: Yann M'Vila's Positioning Will Not Be an Issue

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    Unlike Alex Song, covering teammates is not an issue for Yann M'Vila. 

    It's innate for M'Vila to move into vacant space left by his teammates in order to prevent opposing teams from exposing his team. 

    Song is hesitant in doing the dirty work because he seems to operate on a "I ain't covering your a__" philosophy. 

    Something Tim Stillman noted:

    From my seat I was ideally positioned to see Kieran Gibbs directly beneath me yelling himself hoarse at Alex Song to plug the gap left by Vermaelen’s wander up field. Right in front of my face, I looked on with disbelief as Song turned, acknowledged his junior team mate’s instruction, then just ignored him.

    Needless to say, when Norwich broke successfully, Song, Ramsey and Vermaelen were all barely above jogging pace as Grant Holt exposed Gibbs—by now covering three positions all by himself—to score. 

    Here is the thought process (via Sky Sports) of a real defensive midfielder, Makelele: 

    In every team you need to know what your role is and one of the keys to my role is to keep the balance of the team right. So when Didier [Drogba] goes here, I do this. When Frank [Lampard] goes there, I go there. Same with Michael [Ballack]. When one person moves out of position, then someone else comes in and covers for them.

    Is covering Song's strongest attribute? No—that's why he'll never be as good of a defensive midfielder as Claude Makélélé. 

    On the other hand, M'Vila has the ability to live up to Makélélé's standards. 

    Just to clarify one point, Song has been world-class this season, with his ability to win back the ball and provide lovely incisive passes. 

    His only weakness is positioning in relation to covering his teammates, which happens to be a crucial trait of a defensive midfielder.  

    To be fair, it's not just Song, several of his teammates like André Santos, Carl Jenkinson, Johan Djourou, Kieran Gibbs and Sébastien Squillaci have poor positional awareness. 

Con: £17.7 Million Is Too Much for Yann M'Vila

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    Patrick Vieira, Gilberto Silva, Emmanuel Petit, Alex Song and Mathieu Flamini cost Arsenal a combined £11.5 million.  

    It's odd that Arsène Wenger would spend £15-20 million on Yann M'Vila, because the Arsenal manager has always believed in economically efficient signings. 

    Marcel Desailly said: "If I was the chairman of a club, I would just close my eyes and put the figure on the cheque to get him."

    Point being, you'll forget about the transfer fee when he starts performing. 

    It's a similar situation to when Lyon owner Jean-Michel Aulas held Chelsea to a king's ransom—eventually £24.4 million—for Michael Essien.

Pro: Yann M'Vila Is Freakishly Efficient in Winning Back Possession

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    This Ligue 1 season, Yann M'Vila has won back possession 202 times in 36 games, yet has only received two yellow cards. 

    Not only is he a clean tackler but his 0.8 fouls per game over the season shows how disciplined he is.

    How does he compare to Alex Song and Mikel Arteta? 

      Tackles Per Game Interceptions Per Game Fouls Per Game
    M'Vila 3.1 2.5 0.8
    Song 2.8 2 2.2
    Arteta 2.5 1.9 1.4

    * League only

Con: What About Francis Coquelin?

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    Francis Coquelin has world-class potential as a defensive midfielder because he is a ball-hawk. 

    He has won back possession 44 times in nine Premier League games and keep in mind, his defensive statistics would be better if he started every game. 

    So how many fouls did he concede in those nine league games? Four. 

    If he is going to be a right-back, he must be the permanent right-back.

    His development will be stagnated by playing a couple of games at right-back, a few as a defensive midfielder coupled with sitting and watching Yann M'Vila do his thing. 

    Denílson managed to play 153 games for Arsenal, so Arsène Wenger should give Coquelin an extended run. 

    By signing M'Vila, Wenger is jeopardising Coquelin's career at Arsenal. 

    In 1996, A.C. Milan allowed a lanky squad player to leave because he wasn't given a chance.

    That lanky squad player was signed by Arsenal and went onto become one of the greatest midfielders to ever grace the Premier League—his name was Patrick Vieira.

    Give Coquelin a chance as a defensive midfielder. 

Pro: Underrated Playmaker

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    To the average Joe, there's nothing to note regarding Yann M'Vila's passing abilities.

    However I see M'Vila as a solid play-maker from deep, who has the capability of making great diagonal long passes.

    Granted his passing completion percentage should be higher, but he is still excellent in possession.

    A few years ago, José Mourinho discussed the importance of Claude Makélélé:

    Look, if I have a triangle in midfield—Claude Makélélé behind and two others just in front—I will always have an advantage against a pure 4-4-2 where the central midfielders are side by side. That’s because I will always have an extra man.

    It starts with Makélélé, who is between the lines. If nobody comes to him he can see the whole pitch and has time. If he gets closed down it means one of the two other central midfielders is open. If they are closed down and the other team’s wingers come inside to help, it means there is space now for us on the flank, either for our own wingers or for our full-backs. There is nothing a pure 4-4-2 can do to stop things.

    This is why I rate Alex Song because he has threaded incisive passes from a deep position.

    M'Vila has the ability to do the same and is a more complete defensive midfielder than Song. 

Con: Spend the Money on a Right-Back, Left-Back and a Centre-Back

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    Tony Jantschke, who has had a solid season at right-back for Borussia Mönchengladbach, should cost Arsenal around £5 million. 

    Montpellier's Henri Bedimo is one of the best left-backs in Ligue 1, but could be sold for £7 million. 

    His teammate Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa will set the Gunners back £5 million. 

    Alternatively, Arsène Wenger could take a risk by signing Willy Boly, who has been playing with inept teammates—Auxerre deserve to get relegated. 

    Three problem positions solved, instead of buying Yann M'Vila when defensive midfield is not a serious issue for Arsenal. 

Final Comment

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    Yann M'Vila would be a luxury signing because Arsenal don't need a defensive midfielder.

    Alex Song has been world-class this season whilst doing his best imitations of Andrea Pirlo.

    I don't understand the unjustified criticisms of Song.

    His positional awareness isn't his strongest attribute, but he has been more disciplined this season than seasons before—he only averages 0.4 shots per game. 

    Mikel Arteta has showed a more rugged side to him plus he is efficient in possession. 

    Francis Coquelin has world-class potential, so why not play him? 

    M'Vila is the type of signing economically irresponsible clubs like Chelsea and Manchester City engage in. 

    If Arsenal want to break the bank this season, they need to go all the way—meaning buy a right-back, left-back and centre-back. 

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    Please read What You Need to Know About Vertonghen and Top 6 Replacements for Sagna.

    Statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com.

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