Diame could bring much needed steel in Arsenal midfield
With hours ticking away in the January transfer deadline day Arsenal need to do some quick businesses if they are serious about bolstering their squad in order to stay competitive for the much coveted top-four race.
The Gunners have been heavily linked with Barcelona ace David Villa but his situation is bit complicated as the La Liga giants are unwilling to sell the striker while the 31-year-old is keen for a move to London.
While Villa’s situation is largely out of Arsenal’s control but the North Londoners should wrap up a deal for West Ham midfielder Mohamed Diame before the window shuts down. The 25-year-old has been brilliant this season for the Hammers while has a release clause of £3.5 million inserted in his contract.
Diame has time and again insisted that he is fully committed to the club’s cause and West Ham Sam Allardyce is equally keen to retain his services. But, knowing the nature of the volatile transfer market, even the former Blackburn Rovers manager admits that the situation his beyond his control.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger addressed the need to buy quality players for the club and this where Diame fits the bill nicely. Don’t go by his low profile image, it can be very deceptive.
While attacking wise, Arsenal have maintained their sharpness, it is their defence that has been a major worry for the last few years. Most importantly, it is the disrupted balance in midfield that has caused lots of problem in recent times.
Since, the departure of Patrick Vieira and Mathieu Flamini, Arsenal haven’t had a proper defensive midfielder who would add steel in the middle of the park.
Creativity has never been an issue for Wenger’s side but due to the lack of a proper defensive enforcer, the balance has been disrupted, especially against big teams.
While one might point out the case of Alex Song here and his contributions last season but which aspect of his game is mostly remembered for?
His 14 assists last season and telepathic understanding with Robin van Persie was one of the major talking points but defensively he failed to provide the much needed assurance (his indiscipline, lack of positional sense, urge to go for attack on every opportunity could be the reasons) to his team.
A defensive midfielder’s job is not to join his team in attack in every possible opportunity but to provide stability at the back when the team loses the possession. Almost all the top teams in the world have a proper holding midfield player in place who balances both attack and defence nicely.
After his departure Wenger deployed Arteta in the holding midfield role beside Abou Diaby who impressed in the opening few matches. But as inevitably Diaby quickly went to his seasonal injury disposal mode, the Londoners struggled badly.
The return of Jack Wilshere added quality and dynamism in the middle but due to lack of a proper anchor-man, the same problem persists.
And exactly that’s why Arsenal must buy the former Wigan player. Based on the performance of this season, the Senegal international clearly sits head and shoulder above all the Arsenal players in terms of putting in defensive efforts in midfield.
Diame has put in 66 tackles this season, winning 60% of those. Arteta on the other hand has made 70 tackles for his side, but 42 of those are unsuccessful. Wilshere does put in a lot of tackles, but surprisingly has won only 44% of it, slightly better than the Spaniard.
Another important aspect to consider here is the minute per interception ratings. Diame puts in a tackle every 62 minutes 48 seconds, compared to Arteta’s 83 minutes 24 seconds and Wilshere’s 96 minutes 22 seconds that only highlights his tremendous defensive work rate.
For a team like West Ham conceding less number of goals at home as compared to Arsenal is in itself an achievement, and a lion share of credit should go to Diame for that.
Wenger wants to spend the money judiciously and spending on him won’t be a gamble by any means. He will sit back and do the dirty jobs, while attacking wise he has been equally efficient too. He will add the perfect balance that has been lacking for few years at the club.
Question is – will Arsenal go for him at him at all? Or will Tottenham make a late move and snatch him away?