Firstly, right off the bat, yes, I am aware that Marouane Fellaini and Gonzalo Higuain play in completely different positions. Secondly, I am also aware that, according to reports of a ‘£70 million’ kitty to spend, Arsenal could technically afford both.
However, can anyone realistically see miserly manager Arsenal Wenger parting with just under £50 million for two players, neither of them youngsters nor French?
All quips aside, I find it cumbersome to imagine that Arsenal would really spend big on both – I think it’s an either or situation and, given that Arsenal have both a requirement for a quality striker and a defensive midfielder it’s understandable that one of these players will have to be struck from Wenger’s shopping list this summer.
Both players are 25 years old and have proven track records at both club and international level. Higuain has been in the Spanish capital for six years with Real Madrid whilst Fellaini has been in the Premier League with Everton for five.
It’s not that excessive these days to expect to pay £25 million for a top striker – after all that’s exactly the price range Arsenal sold Robin van Persie to Manchester United last summer.
The sale of Van Persie, along with the deal taking Alex Song to Barcelona, meant that the Gunners will need to restrengthen and bring in adequate replacements.
Up front new signings Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski enjoyed admirable debut seasons in the Premier League – their combined tally of 33 goals and 23 assists between them, which actually beats Van Persie’s achievements the previous term.
However, the Gunners do require a genuine defensive midfielder – I’m not altogether convinced that Song was ever cut out to be that. They need a dominant physical presence in their midfield trio to protect the back line and whilst Mikel Arteta has been outstanding covering that position this season, he’s not that big and he’s not that scary.
Fellaini is – he’s 6ft4” plus another half an inch and he’s pretty feisty – it would have taken a heart of stone not to laugh at his head-butting of Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross this term – but is he actually a defensive midfielder?
I wrote earlier this week about his positional change at Everton this term – he’s deployed more as an attacking midfielder with the freedom and license to get forward and score goals.
I would even go as far as to assert that it’s his goal and assist record that makes him so highly-rated and coveted out of nowhere in the last year – he was not hailed as such an asset to Everton in his first few seasons – he was clumsy and lacked discipline and seemed error prone to me.
He scored 12 goals and made 8 assists this term but his previous season he scored just five. Before that it was three and the season before that it was three.
If Arsenal want to buy a goal scorer they should buy Higuain, not Fellaini. If they want a defensive midfielder there are plenty of other good options for half Fellaini’s £23 million release clause and players like Victor Wanyama or Etienne Capoue are genuine defensive midfielders.
Higuain scores between twenty and thirty goals a season – if it’s goals the Gunners want, then he’s their man. I don’t understand why they would require an attacking goal scoring defensive midfielder for almost the same price.
They need a player who can hold in his role as holding midfielder and defend in his role as defensive midfielder. They need a player that does what it says on the tin not an attacking midfielder in disguise.
image: © nicksarebi