Arsenal could seal the £33.7m transfer of Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Granit Xhaka after Arsene Wenger spoke to the player’s father, according to The Sun.
The Sun understands that the Gunners are prepared to pay the Switzerland international £120,000 per week to ensure that they get their man after a failed January move.
These figures seem excessive for a 23-year-old with little Champions League pedigree or track record for winning trophies, outside of two Swiss League titles with FC Basel.
Xhaka has been a good performer in the Bundesliga for the past few seasons, but £33.7m would be above the market value, with transfermarkt deeming him worth £18.75m.
This is made even more clear when somebody of the stature of Arturo Vidal, a Copa America and multiple-time Serie A winner, as well as a Champions League finalist, went for £28m when he swapped Juventus for Bayern Munich last year, according to the Daily Mail.
But Xhaka would be worth Wenger sacrificing his usual thrifty transfer approach and paying over the odds for, because he is exactly the type of player that Arsenal need.
He fits the profile of technically-gifted midfielders that Wenger, but combines his excellent ball skills with a maturity and aggression that the Gunners have been badly lacking.
Xhaka’s passing statistics make good reading. He averages 84.5 passes per game in the Bundesliga this season, fewer only than Bayern Munich’s Xabi Alonso and David Alaba.
And he compliments this with a defensive discipline that Arsenal’s midfielders often seem to forget about. He tops Gladbach’s charts for most tackles and most interceptions.
Because he sticks his foot in, Xhaka is liable to the occasional sending off. He has three this season – one of only two players in Europe’s top five leagues to have been so naughty.
His temperament may need curbing, but only a little. Wenger’s early Arsenal teams were prolific red card collectors and that aggression helped make them what they were – successful.
This season’s Gunners have arguably been too friendly, to both the opposition and each other. An insurgence midfield grit would give them a different and valuable dimension.
Arsenal have a lot of players who want to be the attacking hero. Xhaka’s game is not about glory in the same way – he has nine goals and seven assists in 134 outings for Gladbach.
But he can be the crucial lynchpin of a team which is already full of attacking dynamism and flair, much like Luka Modric is for Real Madrid, or Sergio Busquets is for Barcelona.
If Xhaka can be even half as effective as those two names, then Arsenal should gamble on the quoted £33.7m price tag before one of their Premier League rivals beats them to it.
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