Odegaard or bust?
Certainly not. However, Arsenal should look to pursue a deal for the Norwegian as a priority and thankfully, according to the latest information, this appears to be the case.
Per Fabrizio Romano, Arsenal will look to keep Martin Odegaard beyond this season’s loan 👀 pic.twitter.com/yTnokjLQV3
— International Champions Cup (@IntChampionsCup) March 23, 2021
Yet, as is with Arsenal, the priority is often unachievable and alternative routes must be established where possible to compensate. This is also the case with the Odegaard scenario. Despite him speaking openly about his happiness at the club, Odegaard could still return to Real Madrid and remain at the place he describes as a ‘dream.’
Therefore manager Mikel Arteta and technical director Edu should be drafting up further plans for other targets. There are two possible routes for the position which they could choose to follow.
The first is to stick with the creative style number 10 they have in Odegaard and the youngster Emile Smith-Rowe. A player who possesses excellent passing range, aiming to stay on the edge of the box to receive the ball and playing cutting passes through defensive lines.
The other is to be more direct. Have a player which supports the striker by playing closer to them, driving at opposition teams and getting involved with and on the end of attacking moves to score more goals.
Both are viable options and below are a number of options the Gunners could pursue.
The 4 alternatives
Nabil Fekir – Real Betis – France – 27 – Transfermarkt value: £22.5 million
Nabil Fekir has already been linked with a move to Arsenal to the point whereby his supposed fee would be in the region of £26 million pounds. 101 produced a straight comparison between him and Odegaard previously and the Frenchman held his own extremely well.
Fekir falls into the category of a much more direct midfielder than Odegaard. The 27-year-old loves being on the ball, dragging his side forwards and making his opponents choose uncomfortable decisions.
7.61 dribbles per 90 with a 63% success rate is impressive and considering he is doing it at one of La Liga’s less competitive sides, he has become Real Betis talismanic figure and gained more leadership qualities. When Fekir is on point, Betis respond and these characteristics would certainly attract Arteta.
Passing wise, whilst not on the same level as Odegaard, Fekir is still strong. Making 2.78 passes into the box per match with a 58.9% accuracy is good. It has led to 6 assists this campaign for the Seville-based club.
He is also an energetic player which Arteta will also like, covering large amounts of the pitch when allowed freedom.
His price, output and style present as a favourable option for the Gunners and could allow Fekir to return as one of Europe’s most appreciated figures.
Paulo Dybala – Juventus – Argentina – 27 – Transfermarkt value: £54 million
Injury has hampered Dybala’s impact on Juventus’ season this year but he is now back in full training ready for the run in to wrestle the Serie A title race back into The Old Lady’s hands.
With the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo, Dybala has somewhat struggled to find his place in the Bianconeri side. Playing in multiple positions from right and left wing to number 10 and even centre-forward. Identifying his best role can be tricky but when given the emphasis to be a protagonist figure the Argentine can show the talent seen by many from his Palermo days.
Considering his difficult season, looking back at the 19/20 campaign provides a clearer insight to what he is capable of. In 33 Serie A games Dybala provided 11 goals and 11 assists. He prefers not to carry the ball to the frequency of Fekir and across this and last season has averaged around 5 dribbles per match which is by no means low.
When playing in a more attacking midfield role, he is excellent at bringing the wider players of the team into play, something which Mikel Arteta has looked to utilise at Arsenal.
The biggest question surrounding Dybala is how realistic a move to the Gunners would be. Arsenal would almost certainly need to win the Europa League in order to have Champions League football available to the 27 year old.
However, with just a year left on his current deal at the end of the season, maybe Arsenal have potential to provide Dybala with a new challenge and they should be looking to add players of his calibre in order to return to the stature they once were.
Florian Neuhaus – Borussia Monchengladbach – Germany – 24 – Transfermarkt value: £34.2 million
One of the later bloomers of German football’s young stars. Considering the fact Neuhaus is only 24 shows how much young talent the nation has. However, the Borussia Monchengladbach gem has grown to notoriety thanks to the excellent handling of him by the club.
Signed from 1860 Munich, he was given an opportunity at second tier side Fortuna Dusseldorf where 6 goals and 3 assists from central midfield showed Gladbach they had a starter for next season on their hands.
He came straight in during 2018/19 and never looked back. It however take until October of 2020 to earn his senior German call-up.
This season, Neuhaus’ maturity has shone through with 7 goals and 7 assists. He plays in a more reserved role at present with the experienced Lars Stindl often used behind the main striker. However, the potential is there for him to move into a more freer role and to be given greater responsibility.
The fact Arsenal are also on the look out for a number 8, if anything, adds extra attractiveness to the profile of Neuhaus. His passing is very progressive with near 9 passes into the final third on average per match with a mighty 71.7% accuracy.
It would certainly take a sizeable and attractive bid to tempt Gladbach into a sale. However, at 24 and with even more exciting times ahead, Arsenal should pounce if any hint of an opportunity presents itself.
Marcel Sabitzer – RB Leipzig – Austria – 27 – Transfermarkt value: £37.8 million
Marcel Sabitzer is on the move. It is now well publicised that this will likely be the Austrian’s final season with RB Leipzig and a number of clubs including Liverpool and Spurs have been credited with an interest in the former Rapid Wein attacker.
Having been poached by the RB system, he spent time back in Austria with Leipzig’s sister club Salzburg where he learned to be a protagonist in a much more attacking role than where he plays now; scoring 19 goals and adding 16 assists to his production tally.
Now 27, Sabitzer became a key figure in Leipzig’s rise to Bundesliga competitive form. His style has also drastically changed. From a player who would be more akin to Fekir and Dybala, dribbling frequently, his role is now much more focused on the passing side of the game. The number of passes into the final third and box have increased comparatively to the decrease in on-the-ball play.
Arsenal will need to battle with a number of clubs for his signature should they look to pursue Sabitzer and earning Champions League football next season could be pivotal if the aforementioned clubs fail to achieve that same qualification.
All statistics taken from Wyscout
The comparison: How do Martin Odegaard and Nabil Fekir stack up and who should Arsenal sign permanently?
This article was edited by Robert Fosterman.
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