Saturday, July 14, 2012

Ganso or Afellay ? Arsenal's search for an attacking mid-fielder

Afellay is considered surplus to needs at Barcelona

Arsenal's transfer policy has been marred by a lack of co-ordination and excessive procrastination. Over the past few years the Gunners have been linked with moves for many prominent players such as Mario Gotze, Marco Reus, Kaka and Eden Hazard, but the club's failures to comply with tranfer fees and wage demands has often led to the breakdown of negotiations. The management is often guilty of exhibiting intent and has a tendency to attract the ire of players and other other clubs, by submitting grossly inadequate transfer offers.

With the impending departures of Robin Van Persie and Walcott, it is necessary for Arsenal to adopt a more astute approach and quickly recruit appropriate replacements. Since the departure of Fabregas, Arsenal's midfield has lacked impetus and at times appeared impotent. Barring Tomas Rosicky no other player in the Arsenal line up is capable of making defence splitting runs and delivering pin-point offensive passes on a regular basis. Arsenal desperately in need to an attacking central midfielder who can act as a pivot between defensive holding midfielders (Song & Arteta) and strikers (Podolski& Giroud). Throughout the previous 6 months Alex Oxlade Chamberlain has showcased attributes suitable for this position, yet he is raw and cannot be expected to have immediate success in such a demanding role. In the meanwhile Arsenal must resort to the dreaded transfer market and secure the services of either Paulo Ganso or Imbrahim Afellay.

Ganso would be an excellent inclusion to the Arsenal line-up
Ganso and Afellay have contrasting styles. Ganso is a more typical midfielder, with excellent vision, speed and footwork. In 59 games for Santos he has scored only 10 goals, but he has supplemented these with countless more assists through his penetrative passing. He would integrate seamlessly into Arsenal's playing structure and would be an ideal companion for the likes of Giroud and Podolski. Most importantly he is only 23 and has the potential to further enhance his skills. His playing style mirrors that of his Brazilian counterpart Kaka and he could well emulate the latter's achievements. Nevertheless, signing him would mean a substantial deviation from Arsenal's prudent financial policy and would require a bid exceeding 20 million euros.

On the other hand Afellay, although a good players, lacks the vibrancy and flamboyance of Ganso. His recent performances for Barcelona have been uninspiring and his injury record has concerned many potential suitors. Throughout his tenure with the Catalans he has largely been overshadowed by the midfield general Xavi and Iniesta. Although a strong and dynamic player, his passing lacks penentration of Ganso, while his field positioning skills have been found lacking. There is no doubt that he has the talent to flourish at Arsenal, however he is unlikely to make an instant impact and will need a few months to acclimatise to the English game. He is 26 and should be at the prime of his career, but injusry problems have curtailed his progress and he will need at least a season to reclaim the form that convinced Barcelona of his abilities. At a price of 6 million, his signing would not stretch Wenger's pockets and Arsenal can secure his services without much competition from other clubs.

In the current circumstances, Arsenal lack the economic might to secure Ganso and would do well sign Afellay. Nevertheless if Wenger actively tries to sell Van Persie and Walcott he should be able to raise in excess of 30 million euros and make a cosnscientious effort to enlist Ganso for the 2012/13 season. Arsenal's attempts to keep Van Persie and Walcott, appear futile and it would be best if the club now accepts the situation and tries to minimise the damage by offering both players to teams outside of England (Serie A, Bundesliga, La Liga). Along with Arteta, Song, the acquisition of one or both of Afellay and Ganso will bolster Arsenal's struggling midfield and fill a massive void in the current squad.

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