Arsenal fans delight at their club’s reported attempts to sign Lars Bender quickly turned to frustration when Bayer Leverkusen quickly dismissed the idea that they would sell the midfielder this summer.
The German side have already seen Andre Schurrle and Dani Carvajal leave, and their insistence that Bender would not also be sold at any price means Arsenal are likely to have to look elsewhere to bolster their midfield resources.
One man who they have been linked with before is Toulouse’s Etienne Capoue, and while he is not as established a name as Bender, the 24-year-old had an excellent season last year, and would be a far more attainable target this summer.
Capoue actually outperformed Bender in plenty of key statistical areas, and although he was arguably playing in a weaker league than the German, it still clearly demonstrates the Toulouse player’s talent.
Capoue score seven goals in 34 appearances, and created 24 chances for his team-mates. Bender scored three times, and set up 31 opportunities. Capoue also completed a higher percentage of his passes - 80% compared to Bender’s 79%, and was more successful when dribbling, completing 75% of his take ons against Bender’s 61%.
These stats are taken from Squawka, who also collate the amount of defensive actions each player averages per game, with Capoue doubling Bender’s total of four in this area. With 81% Bender did win a higher percentage of his tackles, but Capoue’s average success rate of 76% is also very good.
Bender is an excellent player, and could be the perfect fit for Arsenal’s midfield if they could convince Leverkusen to part with him this summer. However missing out on the German might not be a disaster if the Gunners’ revive their interest in Toulouse’s Etienne Capoue.
QPR had a bid of £10million turned down for Capoue in January, but Toulouse have suggested they would be prepared to let him leave for the right price this summer. Tall, powerful, technically-adept and a full France international, Capoue would be a superb signing for Arsenal.
image: © wonker