Arsenal have been linked with a January move for Shakhtar Donetsk forward Manor Solomon but who is he and should the Gunners sign him?
Arsenal’s attacking needs
Arsenal this season have been a little enigmatic when it comes to their form. Looking at recent results it would appear that there isn’t too much wrong after wins against Chelsea, Brighton and West Brom followed by an FA Cup third-round victory against Newcastle.
However, the early part of the season began a run of poor form which extended up until the festive period. Arsenal failed to win more than a single game in 10 league attempts and a lack of creativity and clinical goalscoring was at the forefront of these issues.
It has only been since Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith-Rowe have been added into the Arsenal line-up, in addition to the upturn in form of Alexandre Lacazette, where the fortunes of Mikel Arteta’s side have begun to turn. Although, Martinelli was once again injured in the pre-match warm-up for the Newcastle match which could have caused a rethink of January transfer plans.
The extent of the Brazilian’s injury is still yet to be determined however after recovering from a serious knee injury, further complications in the ankle area are only going to make Arsenal’s possible need for reinforcement in the wide areas more of a priority.
Other Hale End Academy graduate Bukayo Saka has flourished since his consistent selection in the senior squad. Yet in contrast, fellow academy graduate Reiss Nelson has not had such luck. Furthermore, the addition of the experienced Willian and the club-record signing of Nicolas Pepe have also not returned the investment which the club has put into both players in regards to transfer and signing-on fees and wages.
This has been led to reported links with attacking targets in wide areas such as Shakhtar Donetsk forward Manor Solomon. In an exclusive piece by The Gooner Fanzine, the Israeli forward has supposedly been a player that Arsenal are looking at and a source close to the player has said a move to Arsenal would be one he could not turn down.
“We prefer to move in the summer but if a club like Arsenal comes in for you in January, you don’t say no. Edu likes the boy.”
— Layth (@laythy29) January 11, 2021
Who is Manor Solomon?
Ukrainian heavyweights Shakhtar Donetsk are known for their signings made from the Brazilian market which has seen current Arsenal wide man Willian come through their ranks. This is in addition to players such as Douglas Costa, Fred, Alex Teixeira and Bernard. However, the Ukrainian champions have also succeeded by acquiring talent from elsewhere such as Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Manor Solomon was acquired from his home nation club of Maccabi Petah Tikva in Israel in 2019. Now 21 years of age he has established himself as a regular in the Shakhtar setup.
101 spoke to Ukrainian football expert Andrew Todos at Zorya Londonsk to get more insight on the player.
“A lot of his early years at the club were as a bit-part player, especially in his first full Champions League season in 2019/20 when he came off the bench twice to score against Manchester City and Atalanta.”
“Since arriving, he started out on the right where he had been playing with his former club. However he has been deployed as an attacking midfielder and more recently on the left. He has slowly been replacing the well-known Brazilian Taison who is gradually ageing.”
Andrew speaks about one of his key strengths being his dribbling skills and how he is able to take on opponents and get his side into advantageous positions using his technical quality.
“He is predominantly a very good dribbler. Very technical with a low centre of gravity. He likes to keep the ball at his feet and can take on a number of players, beat them and have the strength to hold off players as well,” he said.
This above example is one of the weaknesses identified in his game. Whilst an excellent dribbler and someone that can certainly take on a number of players, the timing of the release of the ball can sometimes be a little late having taken on too many during one dribble. However, with coaching, this can be something very easily changed and tweaked to make him a better player.
“He’s also very composed for a young player when getting into goal scoring positions, he doesn’t slip up. He’s good at finishing the chances which he creates for himself and when it comes to making a key pass is always there to do that,” said Andrew.
Should Arsenal choose to pursue a deal for Manor Solomon it would come with the risk attached of a player who has only played at senior level in the Ukrainian Premier League and to a lesser extent in the Champions League. He is also not a guaranteed starter for Shakhtar, still battling for a regular place in the side.
Andrew Todos quotes the fee for Solomon between €25-35 million which is a lot of money for a player who is yet to prove himself on a consistent basis. Arsenal also have wide players available to them in the form of Saka, Martinelli, Nelson, Willian, Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who can play in a wider area also.
The more pressing needs for The Gunners are in central midfield, creative midfield, goalkeeper and centre back, splashing out a serious amount of money on a player of Solomon’s profile seems a little luxurious for a club whose finances are typically tight especially during the January window.
Tactical Analysis: Why Red Bull Salzburg’s Enock Mwepu could be everything Arsenal need in central midfield
This article was edited by Josh Barker.
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