It has been the consensus that Arsenal need to bolster their central midfield. This has been people’s thoughts ever since Vieira left.
Before we examine the possible options for next season, we must dismiss the myth that Vieira was a defensive midfielder. The term defensive midfielder has been coined by players who cannot run up and down the pitch, do not have the ability to dribble past players, and are not good enough to play as a centre back. Vieira was a box-to-box midfielder, he would break up attacks and run with the ball or spray the ball around the pitch, he was able to score goals, though he did not score enough goals.
We have seen this season how reliant we are upon Fabregas. We needed a midfielder this season to step up to the plate, but all too often, they have flattered to deceive.
In Diaby, we have a player who is capable of turning into a Vieira type player; we have seen glimpses of his ability this season. He is strong, fast, athletic, and skilful and has an eye for goal; he is one player who is not shy at shooting. His problems are twofold consistency and injuries. He will give us two good performances and the next will be a disaster. You always know with Diaby that he is one tackle or fall away from another injury.
If it is apparent to us, mere mortals surely Wenger knows we need to recruit a top central midfielder. Indeed last summer we chased several, Alonso, Toure, Inler, and Veloso were all mentioned and we had offers for four players turned down.
This summer the suspects will be the same, except I do not think we will pursue Xabi Alonso. Liverpool will be expecting the same fee as last year, yet he is nearing Arsenal’s retirement age.
Yaya Toure is a favourite name for all Arsenal fans, primarily because of his connection with Kolo, who has been his number one fan at Arsenal. Everyone knows that Yaya was on trial at Arsenal but we were unable to get a work permit for him, so that one got away. Yaya is having a good season at Barcelona, but Barca also have Keita who is a very accomplished central midfielder. Yaya will bring strength and drive to our midfield that is guaranteed, furthermore, his agent has been making noises that his client has not been offered a new contract. There were reports in the press, to be taken with a pinch of salt, that Arsenal had agreed an £8m fee for the Ivorian enforcer. Toure joining Arsenal would be a good move, but somewhere along the line, I do not see Yaya ever wearing an Arsenal shirt.
Gokhan Inler the Udinese and Switzerland midfielder was subject to much speculation in the summer, until he signed a new contract. Wenger talked of his admiration of the Swiss player in January, but stated we will not be pursuing the matter (in January). His agent last summer said that it might be a year too early to leave Udinese. Inler is a strong midfielder, who tackles and shields the ball well; he also has a good eye for goal.
On the eve of the transfer window Arsenal made serious enquiries about Sporting Lisbon’s Portuguese midfielder Miguel Veloso. The fee quoted by Sporting was £18m, which was out of Arsenal’s reach. Veloso suddenly became available in January, but we were pursuing Andrey Arshavin. Bolton were unable to agree a fee and he stayed with Sporting. Veloso will definitely become a target for many clubs in the summer. Veloso is a good central midfielder who has been a key member of the sporting team, he has also played in central defence, but I trust that this is not the main criteria that Wenger uses to select his man. Veloso is very good at taking free kicks, which will add variety to our free kicks. Veloso scores his fair share of goals from outside the area.
If I was to chose I would go for Veloso, he will add a lot more to our squad than the other players.