TEAMtalk takes a look a three potential defensive midfield transfer targets for Arsene Wenger at Arsenal in January.
Wenger is openly against the January transfer window, but he may well be forced into that market after the injury to Francis Coquelin.
The 24-year-old enforcer has emerged as a key member of Wenger’s first team, but with Coquelin likely to be sidelined for at least two months Wenger’s hand maybe forced.
The Gunners boss admitted as much on Monday when he said: “ I will do what is needed in January, knowing as well it is not an ideal transfer market.”
Wenger is a huge detractor of the winter window and in February this year he stated: “Basically nothing happened. It shows still that financial fair play had an impact, for sure, because we have the experience of seasons before.
“It pushes even more an idea forward – let’s completely get rid of [the transfer window], and go from season to season with the same players.
“Yes [I would scrap January transfers] because it can disturb the cohesion of a group within the season.”
You need only the fingers on one hand to count the signings Wenger has made in the January window in recent years.
Gabriel Paulista arrived in January 2015 for £11million from Villarreal, but Wenger’s winter dealings have been few and far between with the only arrival in 2013/14 being the infamous signing of the injured Kim Kallstrom.
That was an unmitigated disaster with Kallstrom arriving with a back injury, which meant he went on to start only one Premier League game.
The signing of Nacho Monreal was significantly more successful in 2012/13, but it is safe to say Wenger is a reluctant purchaser in January.
That may well leave Gunners fans scratching their heads as Wenger tries to fit square pegs in round holes with Coquelin missing.
He admitted he was contemplating as much when he claimed he had players in the squad who could “compensate”, but whether Callum Chambers is the answer is very much doubtful.
“Chambers has been educated as a central midfielder so there are good opportunities for other players,” added Wenger.
Three Potential Targets
He is a full international, but was player of the tournament for Portugal at the 2015 European Under-21 Championship in the summer, however he did miss his penalty in the final.
Despite that he was in the notebook of every scout in the land, including Arsenal’s. However, the 23-year-old did recently claim Arsenal were the side he was “fond of”, although he made it clear he was in no real hurry to quit Sporting Lisbon where his contract runs until 2018.
Carvalho is a master at breaking up play and making interceptions, but he also has a turn of pace and has the dribbling ability to skip past players and launch attacks. At 23, he would represent a smart investment for Wenger, because, if as expected he continues to develop, his market value would far exceed the reported £30million buy-out clause in his current Sporting contract.
The twin of Sven and a reported long-term target for Wenger, Lars Bender at 26 seems to have been around forever. The Bayer Leverkusen man is a full Germany international but he has found it difficult to get in team at Bayer this season.
Bender might well be looking for a change of scenery after six years at the club. In his early years at the BayArena Bender was a regular and in the last four seasons he made over 150 appearances, but his game time has dried up this term under Roger Schmidt.
If Wenger is looking for a cheaper option, or even a stop-gap loan signing, then Bender could fit the bill. He might well be looking to revive his career and he would be a decent fit with his strong tackling and energy complementing Wenger’s men. Bender can assume the traditional central midfield role – and he chipped in with numerous goals earlier in this career – as well as the more defensive role which Wenger may well be looking for.
The 25-year-old Sevilla ironman has been linked with Arsenal scouts on numerous occasions. The Poland international, who recently scored against the Republic of Ireland, signed for 4.5m euros from Reims in the summer of 2014 and went on to become an integral part of the Sevilla side.
The deep-lying midfielder played 54 times last season and scored in the Europa League final as Sevilla defeated Dnipro 3-2. Wenger could well be sending scouts to check on him again – as he did earlier this season.
Arsenal watched the player in action in the Super Cup clash with Barcelona in August, when he broke a rib but still managed to play 120 minutes in the 5-4 defeat. If Wenger wants to add some steel to his side then Krychowiak would be a perfect fit. His strength, positional discipline and aerial power would add another dimension for the Gunners, but his passing ability is also top class.
Unai Emery is a huge fan of Krychowiak and rewarded him recently with a one-year contract extension, so Wenger won’t get the hardman on the cheap. Krychowiak had a £22million buy-out clause in his previous contract, but that is likely to have risen to around the £30million mark on the back of his new deal.