Montpellier midfielder Younes Belhanda is up for grabs this summer, as revealed this week by his current club’s owner, likely inciting a North London dogfight for the 23-year-old.
The Moroccan international’s club have stated that the ‘door is open’ for him to leave in search of pastures new after an impressive season for the Ligue 1 outfit.
Both Arsenal and Tottenham are reportedly interested in the player who has netted 10 goals from attacking midfield in 27 league appearances for Montpellier this term.
Whilst Spurs will likely be interested in securing his service, they have already signed Lewis Holtby from Schalke in January and, after bringing in Moussa Dembele, Gylfi Sigursson and Clint Dempsey in the summer, Belhanda is not going to be their primary target, given their abundance of options in his position.
Arsenal, however, will be losing a couple of players on free transfers this summer – most notably their former record transfer fee signing Andrey Arshavin who, after impressing in his initial couple of season, has become an increasingly peripheral figure for the Gunners.
Manager Arsene Wenger has, likely for a number of accumulated reasons, lost faith in the pint-sized Russian but with the form and fitness concerns of both Abou Diaby and Tomas Rosicky, Arsenal’s overreliance on Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere mean he is short of an option in his creative and attacking positions.
All of the above are primarily attacking midfielders, although Rosicky, Cazorla, along with the outgoing Arshavin are comfortable in wide areas.
Could Belhanda be just what Wenger needs to add depth and quality to his ranks ahead of next term? Whilst he has mostly been deployed through the centre of Montpellier’s attacking midfield, he is right footed and can do a job there.
Arshavin most often appeared on the left flank for Arsenal but currently Lukas Podolski, Gervinho and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain compete for that position. What Arsenal really need is someone with the formerly brilliant creative vision and sublime technique of Arshavin who, along with Samir Nasri, has been sorely missed. They used to be real dangermen going forward for Arsenal.
Belhanda is certainly a dangerman – he combines great passing, and vision with superb control and skill. He can sit back and be the creative architect or he can surge forward, direct and supremely dangerous with the ball at his feet.
He enters the final year of his contract in June and will almost certainly be sold to someone for around his valuation of £12 million.
In Arshavin’s first full season with Arsenal, he scored 12 goals and made 7 assists, 10 goals and 17 assists in his second full term. Belhanda had a very similar return last season for Montpellier (13 goals and 5 assists) and is working his way to that this season.
Younes Belhanda is exactly the kind of flair player that Arsenal have been missing since the fall from grace of Andrey Arshavin and the departure of Samir Nasri. Belhanda is exactly the kind of addition Wenger needs to make this summer.
image: © Yvelines