Arsenal

Arsenal pushing hard to sign their next Xhaka in potential £100m move

At the time, Arsenal received plenty of praise for their summer business. They had, of course, spent a club-record £105m on a certain Declan Rice.

It was an eye-watering transfer that should and could still put them on parity with Manchester City but the rest of their business has left plenty to be desired.
Jurrien Timber is the unfortunate soul in this. An exciting signing from Ajax, he has played just two matches for the club after a horrendous knee injury suffered against Nottingham Forest on the opening day.
It took £65m signing Kai Havertz until November to score from open play and David Raya still hasn’t totally sold Arsenal fans that he is an upgrade on Aaron Ramsdale.

The transfer window, therefore, looked important in turning their season around after a rocky New Year period that saw them lose three straight games. However, due to FFP, they may have to wait until the summer to spend big again.

Arsenal’s plans for the summer window

Arsenal’s primary goal in 2024 looks like it’ll be bolstering their ranks with a shiny new striker but with extortionate fees being touted they may have to wait until the summer to tick that box.

Ivan Toney, valued at the £80m mark seemingly wants a big move if you believe his recent comments, but Brentford are not keen to sell mid-season, particularly after losing him for the first half of the campaign due to betting offences.
What Arsenal will need to be mindful of is how they spend their money. That’s because one of their big midfield targets in Douglas Luiz is valued at a jaw-dropping £100m.

That said, according to a report from Football Insider over the weekend, the Gunners are still ‘pushing hard’ behind the scenes to sign the Brazilian from Aston Villa.

Arsenal have made bids for the former Manchester City man in previous windows but never eclipsed an offer of £25m prior to the midfielder signing a new deal at Villa Park.
It’s further stated that the Villans are now in no rush to offer the player a further improvement to his current terms in the Midlands.

How Douglas Luiz compares to Granit Xhaka

Granit Xhaka’s exit from English football last summer was bizarre to say the least. For much of his Arsenal career the Swiss had been the villain. He was the party pooper, a constant problem when it came to ill-discipline.
Yet, in 2022/23, Mikel Arteta found a way to get a tune out of Xhaka that had never been seen before.

Before last term, the Switzerland international was more of an orchestrator, someone who dictated the tempo and broke play up. However, under Arteta’s watch Xhaka became the ultimate box-crashing left-sided ‘8’.
Played next to captain Martin Odegaard, he arrived late in the penalty area to record career-best numbers in the attacking phases of play. Xhaka ended last season with nine goals and seven assists. To see him leave, therefore, was peculiar. He moved to the Bundesliga with Bayer Leverkusen where he is enjoying another miraculous season with Xabi Alonso’s men topping the league.

In Luiz, however, they could finally look to replace Xhaka’s output. Indeed. analyst Ben Mattinson declared back in November that the Villa midfielder was now performing in a “very similar” way to Arsenal’s former captain.
This term, Luiz has been a sensation for Unai Emery’s high-flying side, scoring seven times and assisting six goals in all competitions. He’s potentially on course to better Xhaka’s attacking numbers from last term.
That already bodes rather well if he was fielded in Arteta’s system which truly feels tailor-made for a player boasting the Villa maestro’s attributes. But, how do the two compare?
As we can see, the parallels in their respective roles and styles are rather remarkable. Until we get down to the number of tackles and take-ons the duo perform then they were almost identical.

They registered the same pass success rate, mirror each other well for key passes and passes into the final third, while there isn’t a great deal between them when it comes to the level of goals and assists produced in 2023/24 and 2022/23.
It’s difficult to say whether Luiz would have been available over the summer but when you analyse the level of performance here, it’s staggering to think that Arsenal went out and sought Havertz as Xhaka’s replacement, rather than the Brazilian. He is tailor-made to succeed the Swiss in that number 8 role.

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