11 May 2016

A £30m Granit Xhaka move to Arsenal all but set in stone...

With Arsenal's top-four position assured, it appears that Arsène Wenger has already turned his attention to the transfer window, with stories of a £30m transfer of Borussia Mönchengladbach defensive midfielder Granit Xhaka all but done. Said to be a taller, flintier, more-durable version of Jack Wilshere—think perhaps Bastian Schweinsteiger or Xabi Alonso, but younger and, you know, mobile—Xhaka is said to be keen on a move to the Prem. With just a point from our match against Aston Villa needed to qualify for the Champions League outright, could we see the confirmation of Xhaka to Arsenal within the week?

Soon to be accused of spitting at an OAP?
With the likely departures of Flamini, Arteta, and Rosický this summer, and the fading of Cazorla, we'll be down to just Elneny and Coquelin as our defensive or holding midfielders. With apologies to both, they've each done tolerably well of late but cannot hold down the midfield on their own. Wilshere and Ramsey are at their best when paired alongside a defensive-minded partner, and the addition of Xhaka would certainly bolster our defensive set-up while also freeing those two to maraud further up the pitch.

Xhaka is no stranger to the rigours of English football—he's faced both Mancester City and Manchester United in Champions League play (back in the days when Man U could qualify for such a competition...), acquitting himself well enough to help FC Basel oust Man U in 2011-12 and Mönchengladbach to push Man City to the brink in 2015-16. Despite his quick rise to prominence, Xhaka is said to be intelligent and composed, so much so that he captained Mönchengladbach early in the 2015-16 campaign despite being just 23 years old.

With Euro 2016 starting in mid-June, there is increased urgency around completing transfers sooner rather than later. In season after season, Gooners have had to endure as Arsène left it late, sometimes as late as the waning hours of the transfer-window. That's not to say that the transfer of Xhaka will be officially announced any time soon—but it should provide enough of an impetus to Arsène, as he enters the final year of his contract, to leave the club in as strong a position as possible to not only send him off on high note, but to leave it ready to compete in the years to come. The signing of the 23-year old Swiss international would represent one small but significant step in that direction.