Why £14m Premier League midfielder isn't the answer to Arsenal's midfield problems

Cheick Tiote

Arsenal have been linked with a move to sign Newcastle midfielder Cheick Tiote - but the Ivorian isn't the answer to the Gunners' midfield problems.

The Gunners have been busy so far this summer, bringing in David Ospina, Calum Chambers, Mathieu Debuchy and Alexis Sanchez in a £60m spending spree. Despite that, manager Arsene Wenger is believed to be interested in adding more players ahead of the September 1st transfer deadline, with a holding midfielder top of his wish list.

Sporting Lisbon's William Carvalho and Real Madrid's Sami Khedira have both been linked with big money moves to the club, but the latest name to be linked with the club is Newcastle United's Ivorian international Cheick Tiote. The 28-year-old has earned a reputation for being a physical, battling midfielder - but despite Arsenal needing those qualities, the Gunners shouldn't look towards the former Twente man.

The key for Arsenal is to try and upgrade upon Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta in front of the back four. It's widely accepted that Wenger needs to sign a more physical presence in midfield - but Tiote's defensive stats aren't exponentially better than what Arsenal already have.

Tiote had six more blocks, one more interception and a staggering 33 more fouls than the much-maligned Arteta last season, whilst they attempted the same amount of tackles - with Arteta actually winning more of his attempts. Tiote's reckless tackling has been a regular feature of his game, and the count of 66 fouls last season is incredible.

  TeamPosOutfielder BlockInterceptionTotal TackleWon TackleFoulsAppsMins
Cheick Tioté Newcastle MF 13 64 105 69 66 33 2,764
Mathieu Flamini Arsenal MF 11 39 39 25 24 27 1,604
Mikel Arteta Arsenal MF 7 63 105 71 33 31 2,407

Meanwhile, Arteta and Flamini are often criticised for passing the ball backwards too much and slowing down attacks. Yet here, we see that last season, Tiote played far more backwards passes than Arteta. Whilst keeping things simple is a pre-requisite of playing in holding midfield, almost half of Tiote's passes went backwards. Meanwhile, Tiote had the lowest pass completion % of the three - Arsenal should be looking for someone more physical, but not at the expense of their famed passing style.

  TeamPosFwd PassBackward PassTotal PassAccurate PassAppsMins
Mikel Arteta Arsenal MF 646 213 2,152 1,982 31 2,407
Cheick Tioté Newcastle MF 587 285 2,094 1,824 33 2,764
Mathieu Flamini Arsenal MF 352 142 1,125 1,029 27 1,604

Tiote has the physical attributes to be a star, but his poor passing, lack of forward passing and reckless fouls means that Arsenal should look elsewhere. Sporting's Carvalho combines the physical aspects of Tiote and great passing, and should be the top target for Arsenal - especially as Newcastle have slapped a £14m price tag on Tiote.

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