Football Index

A Sorry Day for Sarri


There’s only one place we can start when looking at yesterday’s action and that is, of course, Chelsea’s absolute pummeling at the hands of a ruthless Man City side.

Things are deteriorating remarkably quickly for Maurizio Sarri and co. and the 6-0 drubbing last night was a stark reminder of just how far behind Chelsea are when compared to City. Man City came out of the blocks absolutely flying and they found themselves 4-0 up within 25 minutes. The goals came courtesy of Raheem Sterling (£7.95) and Ilkay Gundogan (£1.62); whilst Sergio Aguero (£5.05) also scored a quick-fire brace in between. At this point, the game was always beyond Chelsea and the second half saw both Aguero and Sterling grab another goal each to complete the rout.

The result leaves Chelsea in 6th place, with a slightly inferior goal difference to Arsenal. Although the Blues have a winnable Europa League tie against Malmo, February is going to be a very crucial month for Sarri. With cup ties against Man City and Man United, as well as a league fixture with Tottenham on the horizon, this could be a make or break month for the Italian!

Back to the match and it seems that Aguero’s red hot streak has got pundits and traders alike drooling. With 7 goals in his last 4 matches, the Argentine now finds himself on 17 league goals for the season. Its little wonder, therefore, that Aguero was subject to a price increase of 26p yesterday. Interestingly enough, he wasn’t quite able to dislodge Youssef En-Nesyri (£1.52) from the attacker Match Day Dividends, as his score of 200 was outdone by the Moroccan, who managed an impressive total of 213. However, he did help himself to the Media Dividends with a score of 890 points.

While Chelsea’s woes continued, Tottenham have been steadily churning out results and they managed another strong display with a 3-1 victory over Leicester. Although most of the title talk has understandably revolved around City and Liverpool, Tottenham have quietly gone about their business in the league and they remain in touching distance with these two teams. Christian Eriksen (£4.76) showed his worth with a goal and an assist, whilst Son Heung-Min (£4.08) continued to show just how crucial he is to this Tottenham side. The South Korean has cropped up with 11 goals and 5 assists in his last 12 games and he has really stepped up to the plate in Harry Kane’s (£10.14) absence over the last few weeks.

It’s been a very different week for both Tottenham and Chelsea, but with both these London clubs still vying to be the best of the rest, the next month will certainly be one that could either make or break their seasons.

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Football Index

How Arsenal Can Re-Build This Summer With Just £45million Budget


It is believed that Arsenal boss Unai Emery would like two new wingers, one left back and at least one centre back in the summer, but has just £45million as a budget. On the face of it, that budget sounds slim and by contrast to Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City, it is. But, there’s still an opportunity for the club to make big strides forward with that money in the summer, here’s how.

First and foremost, the club need at least one central defender of high quality. The budget restrictions mean the Gunners cannot simply enter the market for a Koulibaly (£3.02) and compete with Europe’s top clubs for a player likely to cost around £100million. What they have to do is take a gamble on a younger player, yet to reach that level, but already showing signs of getting there. One example is Ibrahima Konate (£1.39), 19. Despite being so young, he’s a physically imposing defender, standing at 6ft 4’, quality in duels and can read the game exceptionally well for a player of his age and size.

Arsenal’s recent loan of Emile Smith-Rowe (£3.34) to the club may have opened up the negotiation door for a deal in the summer and a bid of £30million is likely to be enough to sign the French defender. To recoup some of this fee the club should look to part with Skhodran Mustafi (£1.20), in my opinion. Sokratis (£0.92) and Laurent Koscielny (£1.43) can offer experience central options for another season whilst Rob Holding (£1.09) and Kostas Mavropanos (£1.32) continue to develop. Signed for £35million, Mustafi still has age and so resale value on his side and the club should be able to find a buyer in the region of £25million.

At left back my favourite options would be Ferland Mendy (£2.07) and Ben Chilwell (£2.12). The club will be priced out of Chilwell now with Manchester City talking about bids of around £50million, but Mendy (23) is still a realistic option. £22million could be enough to secure Mendy’s services from Lyon and he would be well worth the investment at that price considering he could be our left back for the next 10 years. Sead Kolasinac is a decent attacking option and Nacho Monreal an experience versatile defender, but one of those would likely make way in order to accommodate Mendy. Kolasinac’s big wages, believed to be around £140,000 per week may see him as the most disposable of the two, especially as he is aged 25 and has market value of around £15million.

So that’s potentially £7million net spent to help try and address two key defensive issues this summer.

Another area to look at is right back. Bellerin has a bad injury and Lichtsteiner is really not up to it so the club will release him in the summer. Calum Chambers will be returning from loan at the end of the season and after a decent spell at Fulham I’m sure there will be suitors for him at around £20million. This amount would be enough to secure talented Norwich right back Max Aarons (£1.87), who is just 19 but already impressing at a high level.

The club will already see the likes of Petr Cech (retiring), Danny Welbeck (contract expiring) and Aaron Ramsey’s (bosman to Juventus) wages off the wage bill, but shifting Mesut Ozil would go some way to freeing up more vital funds. He’s clearly not an Emery favourite and so an asset of that value must leave, especially when we’re paying him around £300,000 per week. Realistically the club could recoup around £20million for his services, but may need to offset his wages slightly to get that one through the door.

That leaves the budget at £58million to sign two wingers. Let’s presume Denis Suarez (£2.42) does well during the loan deal, he will sign on for around £25million leaving £34million for another winger. That’s probably not quite enough for widely reported target Nicolas Pepe (£6.97), but if the Gunners can also sell Mkhitaryan it would be helpful to the budget and allow the club to secure one of the best young wingers in Europe. Let’s presume the club could get £15million+ for the Armenian, then suddenly Pepe is attainable. Some of my other favourites for this role include: Cristian Pavon, Hirving Lozano, Federico Chiesa and Brais Mendez. All young wide options that would be able to have an instant impact in the first team.

The club did seem keen on adding Cristopher Nkunku (£1.77) in the January window and that deal is said to still potentially happen in the summer. Should Arsenal manage to sell Mohammed Elneny for £10-£15million, it could fund a move for Nkunku, who would cost £15million-£25million. Elneny has attracted some interest over the last couple of windows including from the likes of Leicester and moving him on shouldn’t be a problem.

Despite all those additions, that’s just £45million net spend roughly. This is how Arsenal’s squad could look heading into next season with these changes. It’s notable how much younger the average age would be too:

Goalkeepers: Bernd Leno (26), David Ospina (30), Emiliano Martinez (26).

Right Backs: Hector Bellerin (23), Max Aarons (19).

Centre Backs: Sokratis (30), Ibrahima Konate (19), Rob Holding (23), Kostas Mavropanos (21), Laurent Koscielny (33).

Left Backs: Ferland Mendy (23), Nacho Monreal (32).

Central Midfielder: Lucas Torreira (22), Granit Xhaka (26), Matteo Guendouzi (19), Ainsley Maitland-Niles (21), Cristopher Nkunku (21).

Attacking Mids / Wide Forwards: Denis Suarez (25), Alex Iwobi (22), Reiss Nelson (19), Federico Chiesa (21).

Strikers: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (29), Alexandre Lacazette (27), Eddie Nketiah (19).

So despite the doom and gloom around the reported £45million budget (and that’s if the Gunners don’t qualify for the Champions League), there’s still the potential for Emery, Sanhelli and co. to improve the club a lot over the summer with that amount of money.

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Football Index

Aguero – The Greatest Ever Import?


Who is the greatest ever foreign player to grace the Premier League? It is a question that is regularly asked by fans and pundits alike with lengthy debates taking place on radio phone in shows and a variety of social media platforms. There have been some incredible imports to the Premier League since its inception back in 1992, we’ve had Jurgen Klinsmann, Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Didier Drogba, Cristiano Ronaldo and so many more, but are we overlooking one of the brightest ever stars to grace the Premier League? Step forward Manchester City and Argentina’s Sergio Aguero (£4.95).

The Cityzens captured the signature of Aguero way back in 2011 from Atletico Madrid for a fee in the region of £35 Million when Roberto Mancini was in charge at the Etihad. He will undoubtedly forever be synonymous with Martin Tyler’s now iconic commentary scream of “Aguerroooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo” when he sunk that infamous 90th minute winner against QPR to make it 3-2 and snatch the title from city rivals, United in 2012.

That will go down in Premier League folklore forever and it would be amazing if we ever saw a title decided so dramatically ever again. But that being said the diminutive Argentinian is so much more than a famous soundbite. Since his debut in 2011, Aguero has now plundered 157 goals in the Premier League which puts him 8th in the all-time Premier League top scorers list ahead of the likes of Michael Owen and Les Ferdinand. The striker has scored more than 20 goals in his five of his past seven seasons and has already hit 14 goals in this current campaign. Yet despite such an amazing return he is very rarely mentioned in such revered terms as the previous players highlighted, in fact, only Thierry Henry has managed more Premier League strikes as a foreigner, but should we now all be reevaluating this?

The Argentine is showing very little sign of slowing down having scored six goals in his last four games for Pep Guardiola in all competitions, with the hat-trick over Arsenal on Sunday being the stand out performance. In fact this season it seems apparent that Aguero is Pep Guardiola’s number one striker with fellow striker Gabriel Jesus (£5.76) replacing the Argentine in the vast majority of fixtures in the Premier League and Champions League. Yet once again on Football Index, is he being overlooked?

He is currently trading £0.81 less per share than the Brazilian despite scoring 9 more goals in the league so far to date. His price has also dropped from highs of £6.16 earlier this season to his current price but the prolific hit-man will always be in the running for Dividends. This season to date he has won Top Forward Dividends on two occasions, once was a Treble Match Day and once a single for a return of £0.16 per Share and the last match alone will deliver to holders today an £0.06 return for his hat-trick (£0.02 a goal).

Now that I have been so effusive in my praise of Aguero it would be typical fantasy league luck that he will fall foul of the Pep Guardiola rotation in tonight’s fixture with Everton, but could Aguero deliver once again and elevate the Cityzens to the top of the league and give traders a further boost?

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Football Index

Over To You, Jurgen


All eyes will be on the London Stadium this evening as Jurgen Klopp and his Liverpool team travel to face Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham United on Monday Night Football, hoping to extend the gap at the top of the Premier League back to five points. The gap was reduced back down by Manchester City to two points yesterday evening following Sergio Aguero’s (£4.98) hat-trick in the 3-1 victory over Arsenal at the Etihad stadium. What can Indexers be on the lookout for this evening?

The pressure is only going to ramp up for Liverpool over the coming weeks as the title race hots up, in fact with City taking on Everton on Wednesday they will know that a slip up here could see them drop to second in the table by the weekend. Liverpool’s manager Klopp gave an interview to the BBC last week saying that he revels in the pressure but it will be up to his players to deliver this evening following the 1-1 draw with Leicester City last week. So who will Liverpool be turning to this evening?

It almost goes without saying that they will be looking to the Premier League’s top scorer, Mohamed Salah (£14.42) to inspire his teammates once more. The Egyptian has been in fine form in 2019 with three goals in his last three appearances in the league and this has tallied with his price on the Index rising £1.39 from £13.03 in the last month alone. The one question mark for the Reds at the moment is their defence. Much improved since last season with talisman Virgil Van Dijk (£4.71) at the helm but a spate of injuries in recent weeks to Trent Alexander-Arnold (£3.77), Joel Matip (£1.32), Dejan Lovren (£0.99) and Joe Gomez (£2.65) mean understanding who could start is very much up in the air this evening. It is thought that the young right back Alexander-Arnold will be back in the starting eleven tonight with Cameroonian Matip owing to the bad news coming out of Melwood that Gomez’s recovery from a fracture to his leg is not going as well as expected whilst Lovren has tweaked his hamstring. When comparing the price of the defence in relation to Van Dijk could the Reds defence offer value to traders looking for match day dividends?

West Ham though won’t be rolling over for Liverpool that much is certain. The recent form has been poor having been knocked out of the FA Cup and losing against Bournemouth and Wolves but there has been real progress made under Pellegrini’s management this season. The Hammers have a real attacking threat with Brazilian Felipe Anderson (£3.06), who has traded as high as £3.66 in the past, and the Austrian Marko Arnautovic (£2.10). It is believed that Arnautovic is facing a race against time to be fit for the game this evening with scans revealing no break to his foot having hobbled off against Wolves last week and Hammers fans will be hoping that he can he take to the field this evening. If he does make the starting eleven it could be a good opportunity for traders with his price declining from £2.43 with worries of an injury in the past week.

Will the Reds answer City back or will more pressure be heaped on the title race by the Hammers?

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Football Index

Rashford’s Rise


Marcus Rashford (£13.21)  continued to show his significant value to the Man United team with another crucial goal; this time earning a hard-fought 1-0 victory away to Leicester City.

The England striker is now hitting perhaps the best form of his career and yesterday’s winner was his sixth goal during Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s 10 match reign as United manager. The Norwegian certainly seems to be getting the best out of Rashford and having now chalked up 9 goals in just 22 matches, he has already produced his best league tally ever. Rashford’s goal unsurprisingly meant that the young striker snatched the Media Divindends on the night with an impressive score of 1400 points.

Unfortunately, Rashford’s game-winning goal wasn’t quite enough to edge him into contention for the Match Day Dividends. On the night, Alfred Finnbogason (£1.21) cleaned up the overall MDD with a score of 242 points. This was the result of a hat-trick which included two spot kicks, as Augsburg beat Mainz 3-0. The Icelandic striker has 10 goals in just 13 games this season for Augsburg, so he looks a decent punt if you’re on the hunt for a lower valued striker. Let’s hope he can keep up with his free-scoring form.

Back to Rashford and despite missing out on the Match Day Dividends, a quick glance at his recent scores really does indicate the level to which he has stepped up his game under his new manager. In four of his last five matches, Rashford has hit a MDD score of 140 or higher. Whilst he has also finished in the top 4 strikers for MMD in four of his last six matches. Although he’s not quite sweeping up the Match Day Dividends just yet, these scores are indicative of a player oozing in confidence and considering he is still just 21 years of age, this is a very positive sign of things to come.

Meanwhile, over at the Etihad, Man City got back into their stride with a 3-1 victory over Arsenal. Sergio Aguero (£4.98) was unlucky to miss out on Match Day Dividends, as he managed a score of 232, despite hitting a hat trick. Although he didn’t win any dividends, there is absolutely no denying Aguero’s class and his performance last night was a stark reminder to fans and traders alike of just how clinical the Argentine is when it comes to putting the ball in the back of the net.

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Football Index

United Leave It Late


The main focus of the day was the Premier league action which took place yesterday evening. One of the most eye-catching results saw an intriguing affair at Old Trafford, as man United‘s winning streak came to an end against Burnley. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had overseen an eight-game winning streak since replacing Jose Mourinho. However, United had to battle from behind to snatch a draw from the jaws of defeat against Burnley.

Romelu Lukaku (£4.43) started up front for the Red Devils, but he was unable to make his mark in the game. The last few months have been somewhat testing for the Belgian, as he seems to be falling more and more out of favour at Old Trafford. Marcus Rashford (£12.56) wasn’t able to get on the scoresheet this time around and falling two goals behind, things looked pretty dire for United. However, Solskjaer’s side managed to grab 2 late goals including a Paul Pogba (£19.39) penalty and a last gasp equalizer from forgotten man Victor Lindelof (£1.32) in the second minute of injury time!

With their winning streak coming to an end, it will be interesting to see how OGS and Man United now respond and whether they are able to pick themselves up for what could be a potentially tricky tie away to Leicester City.

United’s draw allowed Arsenal to edge 2 points clear from the Red Devils and their pursuit of the top four remains alive for now. Arsenal managed to overcome Cardiff 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium, thanks to a goal apiece from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£5.01) and Alexandre Lacazette (£3.08). The bromance shared by these two strikers is perhaps one of the only positives Arsenal fans have been able to enjoy as of late, as their squad has been seriously ravaged by injuries over the last few weeks!

With the January transfer window soon closing, it seems that Arsenal are on course to bring Denis Suarez (£2.82) to the Emirates. Suarez’ loan move has been in the works for some time, but with more concrete rumours circulating, this had a positive effect on his value; with his price increasing by over 30% yesterday alone! Arsenal could probably do with some reinforcements at the back, but with little cash to spend, they may have to depend on more loan deals for the time being at least!

The final fixture we will be focusing on was the shock of the day, in which Newcastle came back from behind to defeat Man City 2-1. The result struck an absolute hammer-blow to Pep’s title hopes and despite Aguero’s strike in the first minute, Man City were unable to take full advantage. Liverpool are already sitting pretty 4 points clear at the top of the league, but traders will now be watching their match on Thursday against Leicester even more closely. With a struggling Tottenham playing Watford, the only other European match of note is that of Nantes who take on St. Etienne in the French league. As such, this will be the perfect opportunity for the likes of Mohamed Salah (£14.24) to not only re-iterate their status on the Football Index but to also further cement Liverpool’s title ambitions.

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Football Index

Maurizio Sarri Looking For Comfort In Former Player Elseid Hysaj


It’s no surprise that Chelsea have been linked with Napoli right-back Elseid Hysaj (£1.16). Not only has the 24-year-old been one of the Serie A side’s most consistent performers since joining the club in 2015, but he is a player in which Coach Maurizio Sarri truly trusts.

Life must’ve been hard for the Hysaj family growing up in Albania, as Elseid’s father emigrated to Italy just two months after he was born to find work as a bricklayer. By the age of 14, he was already a promising footballer and had joined his father on the peninsula in order to search for a club. The Empoli youth sector was the destination, having been rejected by nearby Fiorentina, but it wasn’t until the club were promoted to Serie A under Sarri that Hysaj began to shine.

In 2014/15, he would make 33 appearances for the club as the Coach perfected his attractive passing style, honed under methods such as drone technology in order to further increase the precision of his system.

It was no surprise that the right-back was one of the players Sarri would insist on taking Hysaj him to Napoli after he was recruited for the following campaign. His right-back made the third-highest number of average passes per game for Empoli in 14/15 (46.3) and connected with 80.4% of those attempts, all in a position not usually known for a high number in this particular stat.

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Hysaj would go on to make 37, 34 and 35 appearances respectively in each of the three seasons Sarri took charge of the Partenopei, reinforcing exactly how important the full-back is for a man who relies on regularity in order to achieve the necessary results. “Sarri leaving Napoli is not good news for me, as we’ve been working together for six years,” the player declared this summer after receiving news of his boss’ appointment at Stamford Bridge.

Despite heavy links to Chelsea last summer, Hysaj would remain at Napoli and has since made 14 league starts under new boss Carlo Ancelotti. However, the opening of the January transfer window has now reignited those claims, and the rumours have continued to be fuelled by the player’s agent.

“The important thing is hearing that Ancelotti respects Hysaj,” representative Mario Giuffredi told RAI after a meeting with the club last week. “He confirmed his faith in him. Of course, the January transfer window is always to be evaluated and there has been talk of Chelsea, for example. If there are situations that are mutually advantageous, then we’d evaluate them. If nothing happens in January, then we’ll discuss a contract extension.”

Yet the question of whether his arrival at Chelsea is what the club need right now remains to be seen. Sarri’s over-reliance on certain players is something the Coach was heavily criticised for during his time in the Italian top-flight, and such lack of rotation ultimately cost Napoli the chance to win the Scudetto last term.

“He tries to get players that he knows fit his style of football,” Empoli season ticket holder Francesco Sani thas said. “In itself this is nothing particularly out of the ordinary, but I see it as one of his weaknesses.”

Sarri’s “comfort blanket” approach with some of his former players is perhaps a cause for concern, but nor should this detract from the clear talent of Hysaj. The right-back is certainly an improvement on former Torino man Davide Zappacosta, and for this reason alone it may be worth a bid from Chelsea before the end of the month.

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Football Index

Rashford and Pogba Thriving Under Ole’s Tutelage


Manchester United’s fans well and truly got their Christmas wishes answered by Santa this year with the clubs dismissal of Jose Mourinho as manager on the 18th December. The Red Devils hierarchy turned to former fans favourite and Molde manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to take interim charge until the end of the season and the transformation has been nothing short of scintillating as they currently top the form table alongside Liverpool with fifteen points out of a possible eighteen in the last six matches. Central to this upsurge in form appears to be a loosening of the defensive shackles employed by the Special One, that has seen the likes of Marcus Rashford  (£9.64) and Paul Pogba (£16.44) unleashed on the opposition.

It was often argued that Marcus Rashford’s development was being hindered by Jose Mourinho’s tactics where he would often find himself playing wide left rather than in his preferred position of straight through the middle. Ever since the appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as interim manager, the Norwegian has thrust Rashford straight into his preferred central striking position and has immediately reaped the benefits. The young England forward has plundered four goals and an assist since the former super sub Solskjaer has taken over the reins at Old Trafford and has firmly demoted £90 Million man Romelu Lukaku (£4.53) to a supporting role from the bench only in recent times.

This can only be an exciting development for Gareth Southgate and England fans. But the upsurge in form hasn’t gone underappreciated on the Football Index either. Just seven days ago Rashford was available at a price of £8.34 a share, yet as of this morning he is up a humongous £1.26 a share. That represents a rise of 15% in a matter of days. The catalyst for the rise is undoubtedly his strike against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley yesterday as the game-winning goal in the 1-0 victory witnessed his price £0.91 alone.

Another player who has been transformed under Solskjaer’s tutelage has been firm Index favourite, Paul Pogba. In the immediate aftermath of the news that Mourinho had been dismissed by Ed Woodward, Pogba’s price actually tumbled with traders fearing that the media’s obsession with the relationship between Pogba and Mourinho would dissipate, but it is actually his football that is now setting tongues and Index’s portfolios wagging. A stunning assist for Rashford’s decisive goal yesterday means that he has now scored on four occasions and assisted on a further four since the Norwegian’s appointment and the media quite simply hasn’t stopped talking about the Frenchman. Since Mourinho’s departure he has collected £0.68 in Media Dividends alone. It is therefore little surprise that his price has rocketed from lows of £11.75 in the last month, up by £4.55 a share. Phenomenal growth.

The huge upturn in form of Manachester United under Solskjaer’s guidance in making waves in football as they gun for the a top 4 slot in the Premier League but it is also having a massive impact on Football Index. Did you get on either Rashford or Pogba?

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Football Index

Five Realistic Defensive Signings For Arsenal


It goes without saying that Arsenal need to sign a new defender this month. Whilst the Gunners have been scoring plenty, they’ve been letting far too many in and Unai Emery is well aware of this problem.

In this article I look at 5 realistic defensive signings the club could make this month.


1 – Kostas Manolas £1.77

The Greek defender has a release clause of €36million, an amount that is not out of the Gunners price range and also cheap in the current market for a player of his quality. Manchester United have been linked in recent weeks, but his release clause presents a perfect opportunity for Arsenal to address their defensive issues, if of course, the player wants to make the move. Whilst not bad in possession, a concern for Emery though would be that the player is not the best at playing out from the back.

2 – Malang Sarr £1.79

Sarr is set to become one of the very best defenders in Europe. Whilst he may not be cheap now, the teenagers price is only heading one way. Aged 19, he is already one of Nice’s most important places, starting consistently. He’s also very good on the ball and known for his ability to play out from the back. Could Patrick Vieira, the current Nice manager, do Arsenal a favour here? I think he’d be a fantastic signing, young, but capable of hitting the ground running due to the amount of first team exposure he has already had.

3 – Daniele Rugani £1.34

Rugani is a player Arsenal have been keen on signing for some time, but Juventus have held firm as they appear to view the 24-year-old as heir to some of their more experienced defenders. However the Italian very rarely features in the first team and for someone of his age, he needs to be playing regularly. With just 4 league games to his name this term, Arsenal could possibly tempt the club and player with a bid this month. He’s well suited to Emery’s style of the play, very good on the ball – averaging a 92.4% pass success rate this season.

4 – Mehdi Benatia £1.26

Not the ideal solution, but if money is really limited as reports indicate then the Moroccan defender could be an appropriate solution. The 31-year-old would offer a big physical presence to the team as well as adding a good amount of experience. Some reports have suggested Benatia could be part of a deal that sees Aaron Ramsey join Juventus this month. With Koscielny and Sokratis already at the club though, I would prefer to see a younger player arrive.

5 – Diego Godin £1.23

With the Spaniard struggling to agree a new contract at Atletico, the Gunners could pounce to sign the experienced Uruguayan defender. He may be 32, but Godin would certainly offer an upgrade on the club’s current defensive options and on a 2 and a half year deal he could be a shrewd signing. Technically the Gunners could sign Godin on a pre-contract agreement now to see him arrive for free in the summer, however, Unai Emery will want a defender now and so a small settlement fee could possibly be agreed with Atletico to make the move happen early. It seems Inter Milan may have already won the race for this one, though.

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Football Index

Why Ever Banega Would Be A Great Signing For Arsenal


Since Unai Emery arrived at Arsenal, the Gunners have been heavily linked to one player in particular. Ever Banega.

The Sevilla midfield maestro has been an important part of the La Liga team for some years and he would bring a huge amount of creativity, experience and energy to the Arsenal midfield.

Arsenal fans will rightly say that the club should be focussing on adding defensive quality to the ranks this month, but with Aaron Ramsey on his way out and Mesut Ozil’s future up in the air, Banega could be a key addition.

The Argentinean international has an £18million release clause, so despite being 30 years old, still looks good value considering the quality he would bring to the side.

Emery has always insisted that he wanted Arsenal to control games, that is something they have perhaps not done enough under his tenure to date, but Banega would certainly help the Arsenal midfield do just that. Emery is a big fan of the player and believed to be putting pressure on the club to complete a deal for the midfielder he has previously managed in La Liga.

In terms of Football Index, Banega could be a very valuable player at Arsenal. Surely likely to be at the heart of everything Arsenal do, Banega is a specialist on set pieces and has an eye for goal, as well as averaging 67.5 passes per 90 minutes this season. These qualities make him a player tailor-made for the Index’s matchday rankings system.

If he joined in January however, he would be cup-tied for the remainder of the clubs participation in the Europa League. This due to his involvement in the competition already with Sevilla this campaign. The Europa League may be Arsenal’s main opportunity back into the Champions League and they will ideally want any new signing to be involved in the pursuit of European success so that is certainly a downside to a move for Banega.

Capable of playing as a number 10, or deeper alongside the likes of Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira, Banega can help Arsenal transition defence to attack seamlessly and he has managed 2 key passes per 90 minutes for Sevilla this season, that’s more than any Arsenal player, with his closest rivals being Sead Kolasinac and Mesut Ozil, both with 1.8 per 90.

I could see Banega playing as a number 10 under Emery but by doing that, giving the team more defensive balance. Banega has defensive qualities too, averaging 2.7 tackles per 90 in La Liga this season, that’s also more than any Arsenal player to have played more than 1 game this season. Of Arsenal’s midfielders, only Xhaka and Torreira have managed more interceptions.

His intelligence is also a key quality, with great positioning and vision, his tactical awareness would really help Arsenal’s ambitions to defend from the front and improve their off the ball structure.

These statistics highlight both the quality Banega has on the ball, but also the tenacity he has off it. Arsenal fans should look past the player’s age and see he is a midfielder perfectly suited to the way Emery wants to play and a midfield three of Torreira, Xhaka and Banega has a mix of youth, experience, energy, pace, strength and goals – is Emery-ball on its way?

For more on Arsenal and Football Index, follow me @OliPriceBateson Twitter.

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