Arsene Wenger has repeatedly told the Gunners faithful that he intends to try and bring in one more player before the start of the season, with an extra body in the central midfield area being the highest priority.
The rumour-mill spun a possible Gunners hijack of Gareth Barry from under the noses of Liverpool. But buying big-named players at the prime of their careers has never been the style of Arsene Wenger, and the likeliest addition to be brought into the Emirates appears to be another relatively unknown foreigner, 24-year old Swiss international Gokhan Inler.
According to reports, Inler is available from Udinese for Â£8 million, pursuant to a buy-out clause in the player’s contract. For Wenger, who has molded himself a reputation for unearthing unknown superstars of tomorrow for nothing, such a sizable transfer fee runs counter to his principled position. Yet, having already played in a European Championship and experienced football in Serie A after domestic title success with FC Zurich, much like the capture of Samir Nasri, Inler appears to be value for money with the best years of his career still to come.
There is also the sense that Wenger is turning back to a tried and trusted tactic in bringing in Inler. Unlike Flamini or Fabregas, Inler is a defensive-minded central midfielder, standing 6ft tall, with a slim and athletic build. Off the bat it is easy to draw comparisons to a young Patrick Vieira, but so far Inler has failed to sparkle on the level of such a great. But if Wenger is able to invest significant time on the training ground working with the youngster, who would bet against history repeating itself?
There are some excellent clips of Inler which demonstrate what type of a player he is.
The first clip comes from his days in Switzerland playing for FC Zurich. In a match away at FC Sion, the young midfielder broke with the ball from the halfway line, showing good ball skills to bring the play up the pitch. But as the ball ran away from him, Inler hurled himself into a two-footed challenge, fully committed to getting the ball, but only managing to injure the opposition player. (See the footage here.)
A second, and again rather unflattering clip, comes from a meeting between Juventus and Udinese last season. On this occasion Inler was faced with a difficult position, tight on Camoranesi on the edge of the box with Del Piero bearing down on him fast. Del Piero made mincemeat of the midfielder, shifting the ball past Inler before being brought down in the box as the Swiss took him out with his knee. Fortunately the ref was blindsided and he got away with it. (See the footage here.)
However, not all of the clips paint Inler in a bad light. The two most complimentary pieces of action come during his time at Udinese, where the midfielder showed himself to have a fierce shot from distance, smacking home goals against Torino and Fiorentina.