For years now, Arsenal have lacked a strong, commanding central midfielder, one that can protect the back-line and add that extra level of defence. Mikel Arteta has been playing that role since his move from Everton in 2011, but now there are reports in France that one of Arsene Wenger’s targets is Lille OSC’s captain Rio Mavuba.
Mavuba is currently part of the France national team preparing for the World Cup in June. The 30-year-old came on as a substitute against Paraguay on Sunday and is one of Didier Deschamps’ most dependable players, and brings more than just a steely defence to the France midfield.
It was after a disastrous move to Villarreal in Spain that Mavuba moved to Lille, originally on loan, back in 2008. He has gone on to represent them in over 300 games. He was part of the fantastic midfield that won the league and cup double in 2011 and is one of the Lille fans favourite players.
However, the time has come for Mavuba to move on. Although his time in Spain was not a success, it hasn’t stopped the player wanting to try his luck outside France. Last month he basically made an open invitation to clubs of Italy, Germany and England, saying “why not”. Now it is up to the clubs to make a move.
Arsenal would be an excellent fit, Mavuba is an excellent midfielder, perhaps not quite at the peak he was in 2011, but he is still playing on a very high level. For Lille he drops back into the defence, providing that extra cover. He reads the game extremely well, and despite not being the fastest player, he rarely gets caught out.
Mavuba’s strength helps him battles against the bigger players and his intelligence and positioning skills help him combat the quicker players. Even at 30 years old, he is one of the best midfielders at doing this protection job.
If Wenger was to make a move, it would be very low cost, but he would get a very dependable general on the field, and someone that could add that vital experience that Arsenal lack at the crucial times in recent years.