26 August 2013

di María to sign? How many midfielders do we need?

With rumors around Ángel di María growing louder, I wanted to offer a quick run-down of some of his stats to put in context our offer, said to be in the £26m range. As you can probably guess based on the title, I'm not sold on the move, at least not as our first
signing of this silliest of seasons. Midfield is an area of relative strength for us. If di María had the skill-set to convert to striker or defensive mid, I would get more excited. As it stands, though, I'm not sure how excited I should be. Here are some of his numbers from the 2012-13 campaign to help us ruminate...

According to whoscored.com, His passing accuracy is a woeful 71.9%, which would see him better only than our keepers, Gnabry, and Giroud. Despite playing for a prolific Real Madrid squad that scored 153 goals in all competitions, di María managed only six goals and seven assists. Cazorla, playing a similar style and position, generated 12 goals and 11 assists. As a winger and attacking midfielder, his defensive numbers aren't going to be all that high, but I would have expected to see better offensive numbers. His pace and dribbling are valuable assets, of course, and he's capable of some vivid, vital attacks. However, I'm suspicious that, with all of the advantages of playing for Real Madrid, he hasn't recorded somewhat flashier stats. Numbers don't tell the whole story, but they give us a fair approximation of value. £26m on a player who would fight for playing time, most likely against Walcott on the right wing, doesn't seem to add up.

If Real is looking to move players to help pay for their looming acquisition of Gareth Bale, sure, let's spend, but let's spend to address our more-pressing needs. Could we get Casillas or Benzema instead? They might be available in this £25-30m range we seem intent on staying within, and each would more directly address a need while adding truly world-class value. Di María is a very good player, but he seems to be a step or two down in quality from the likes of those teammates, not to mention potentially superfluous to our needs.

As the transfer-window closes ever-tighter, it is imperative that Arsenal do some proper business. We've moved past the despair from the loss to Aston Villa and are now riding high after dispatching Fener and Fulham, but a true test of who we are awaits us on Saturday. Tottenham, playing without Bale, have sandwiched a 5-0 win in the Europa between two razor thin 1-0 wins in the Prem (both on PKs from Soldado). As we all know, though, Saturday's match has just as much to with mutual enmity as it does with form or table. Whether it's di María we sign or someone else, it would be valuable to have that player available for Saturday. Arsène has claimed that 75% of transfer-activity happens in the last ten days. We're down to seven. And counting...