Arsenal are enjoying their best season for a long time, and they could look to ensure that their progress under Mikel Arteta does not falter with a swoop for Real Sociedad’s Martin Zubimendi.
What’s new on Zubimendi to Arsenal?
The Spanish midfielder is a player who’s well-known to the Gunners’ hierarchy, with the club having reportedly been interested in a January swoop and even willing to meet his £53m release clause, although Zubimendi was reluctant to part with his current club mid-season.
Reports from Spain are now claiming that Arsenal are in ‘pole position’ to complete a transfer for the 24-year-old this summer, perhaps solidifying their midfield for years to come.
Arteta has led his team towards a title race against Manchester City this season, with the north Londoners currently second in the Premier League, level on points with the champions and with a game in hand.
Is Zubimendi an upgrade on Elneny?
If Arsenal technical director Edu is successful in his pursuit of the “special” star, as lauded by Spanish football expert Sid Lowe, then Arsenal might finally complete the central midfield jigsaw with the perfect piece, pumping renewed vigour into the engine room and possibly ensuring that silverware is gleaned over the coming years.
The flourishing “playmaker“, as dubbed by talent scout Jacek Kulig, boasts a kaleidoscope of quality at his feet, with Kulig highlighting his strength in “technique, ball control, teamwork” and “tactical intelligence”, which only bolsters the claims that the 24-year-old is the perfect prospective addition to the current crop at the Emirates Stadium.
As per FBref, Zubimendi ranks among the top 10% for clearances, top 9% for aerial duels won and top 15% for interceptions when compared to positional peers across Europe’s big five leagues over the past year. He has indeed been the “key element“, as hailed by journalist Josh Bunting, behind his team’s recent success – Sociedad sit third in La Liga after 21 matches, eight points above Real Betis in fifth.
Similarities can be drawn to industrious Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny. He ranks among the top 28% of midfielders in Europe’s five main leagues for both clearances and interceptions, and also incredibly in the top 1% for pass completion, illustrating a vice-like grip on matches which can inject the required composure in pivotal moments.
Unfortunately, injuries are currently the Egyptian’s Achilles heel – he has missed 20 matches already this season, making just eight appearances across all competitions.
While he is dependable when called upon – with Ian Wright lauding the 30-year-old as “brilliant” (as per Premier League Productions, 29/10/22 at 13:10) for his impact as a utility option – his ability is a moot point when he is continually shackled to the medical department. Younger, more vibrant and more reliable, Zubimendi represents a glistening opportunity to continue the Gunners’ revival.
With this in mind, Arsenal must throw the kitchen sink at Sociedad this summer to try and land the 24-year-old; with his dynamic skill set and robust approach to his play, he can instil the grit and guile required to give the Gunners an edge in their pursuit of silverware.
At £53m, the £51k-per-week maestro will not come cheap, but with Arteta holding the imminent future of this prestigious football club in his hands, he must ensure that he does not miss the mark, and the Spanish sensation must be signed.