Nuri Sahin: Could His Arrival Balance The Arsenal Squad?
Arsenal seem to be edging closer to signing Nuri Sahin on loan, reports suggesting a deal could be struck in a day or two. Liverpool looked to have edged ahead in securing the Turkish international for the season but it seems the player is keen on Champions League football so the Gunners are very much in the running.
Arsenal are said to be insisting on an option to buy the player at the end of next season, which could be one reason for the deal being held up. Real Madrid have a plethora of midfield riches right now but having secured the talented Sahin from Borussia Dortmund for just £8m a couple of years ago, they are perhaps keen on keeping Nuri contracted to the Los Blancos.
Sahin’s signing would ease some of the concerns following Alex Song’s move to Barca. Of course they are very different players. Alex Song’s primary responsibility was as a defensive midfielder and it’s only last season that he morphed into a more attack-minded creative player. Sahin on the other hand is much more of a playmaker, a player compared to Mesut Ozil which is high praise indeed. There’s an interesting profile on Nuri Sahin by the Independent this morning which looks at the Turkish international’s strengths and what he could bring to Arsenal.
On the other hand, we are also being linked with Yann M’Vila. It’s unlikely the Gunners will move for both Sahin and M’Vila, what with the midfield already crowded with players jostling for position. Arsene Wenger himself has stated he’s now only looking for one midfielder and one defender. While AW is a master at saying one thing and doing another, you suspect he’s being honest in this assessment.
I think Sahin’s arrival would give the side much-needed balance and varied options on the bench. Arsene suggested after the Sunderland game that we lacked a little creativity in our attacking play. Podolski, Walcott and Gervinho played on Saturday and all three are forwards who prefer running towards goal rather than playing around a stubborn defense.
The likeliest way Arsene will try to address that is by moving Santi Cazorla to the flank. It would add a different dimension to Arsenal’s forward play and pose a varied challenge to the opposition. For example, assume in the next game Podolski starts on the left, Cazorla on the right and Giroud through the middle. Arsenal’s front three would then possess completely different attributes. Giroud would provide physical presence and impressive aerial ability, Cazorla would seek Giroud’s runs whilst also bringing midfield runners into play and Podolski would offer a good work rate whilst making himself available in the box when opportunities are created.
This triumvirate seems a lot more balanced than the one which started against Sunderland. Depending on the match situation, it would also allow Arsene Wenger to introduce the pace of Walcott or the dribbling of Gervinho from the bench.
But moving Cazorla wide means Arsenal need a similarly creative player to pull the strings in midfield. For me, Tomas Rosicky would be first choice to play there if he returns with the sort of form he showed between February and May. But the Czech international is still out injured, as is Jack Wilshere. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been played deeper in midfield in pre-season and to be fair, the youngster has looked impressive coming out with the ball from the back so I expect Arsene will persevere playing him there for the meantime.
That leaves only Aaron Ramsey available to play in the CAM role at present. As much as I like Aaron and think he’ll mature into a fantastic player one day, his form at the back-end of last season was not impressive enough and even though he did well with Great Britain at the Olympics, Ramsey would not be a definite starter in that position just yet.
On the other hand, Nuri Sahin seems like the ideal player to slot into that vital hole behind the striker. The ex-Dortmund man is supposed to be technically adept and likes to show for the ball. He seems to have good passing range, is able to keep possession easily and distribute the ball quickly – all the qualities required for a player looking to create chances for teammates.
Effectively, his signing would provide Arsene Wenger a back up or two in every position in midfield and attack. Giroud or Chamakh (new striker if Marouane is sold) as the central striker, Cazorla or Walcott on the right-wing, Podolski or Gervinho on the left wing. In midfield, Rosicky, Sahin or Wilshere in the CAM role, Diaby, Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain or Ramsey as the pivot and Arteta, Coquelin or Frimpong as the holding midfielder.
And many of these players are versatile enough to allow Arsene Wenger to change things around structurally without altering many personnel. Of course it will take time for these players to develop an understanding with each other but Nuri Sahin could add that extra bit of variety to the squad to make us more formidable.
Perhaps Arsene Wenger’s reasoning behind selling Alex Song was that for 15m, the Frenchman could get a much more creative player than the now departed Cameroonian. Is Nuri Sahin that player?
Back tomorrow with more thoughts on the Arsenal.