This weekend, once again Arsenal failed to hold on to a lead. Swansea hit them twice from 1-0 down, exposing problems in Arsene Wenger’s lineup. One position that the club is screaming out for is a defensive midfielder that can protect the defence and one that has everything the Gunners need will be playing for France during the international break.
Last week Didier Deschamps named his squad for the upcoming friendlies against Albania and Sweden. Originally Maxime Gonalons was not named as part of his midfield, but an injury to Paris Saint-Germain’s Blaise Matuidi saw the Lyon captain brought in to strengthen Deschamps bench.
There is a huge call amongst those who have watched Lyon prosper this season that Gonalons should have been a clear pick in Deschamps squad, perhaps in place of Matuidi’s teammate Yohan Cabaye. Wolfsburg’s Johsua Guilavogui is also lucky to have gained a spot in the squad.
With Lyon up to third in the league, Gonalons experience and leadership has been one of their key components this season. Heavily linked with a move to Napoli last winter, it was expected that the 25-year-old would definitely move on in the summer, but again he remained at the heart of Les Gones.
Hubert Fournier was delighted that his club captain would remain for at least another season, and after the club made a shaky start, their potential and wonderful brand of football has taken the league by storm.
Gonalons is the glue that sticks it all together, he is the base of which the likes of Alexandre Lacazette, Nabil Fekir and Clinton N’Jie can push forward and terrorise defences.
Only six players have completed a higher percentage of passes than Gonalons, but that’s not where his true strength lies. When he has to step in and clear up danger, his tackles are always on point. Gonalons is also adept at reading the game superbly well, intercepting danger before he has to get his boots dirty.
Virtually he is everything that Arsenal is lacking at the moment. He can also play at centre-back when Lyon has one of their trademark injury crisis. It would be hard for Wenger to pry him away from Lyon this season, especially as they are pushing towards a place in the Champions League.
However, if Wenger wants him, he would be getting one of the best defensive midfield generals in the European game, but he would have to wait until the summer. Perhaps Arsenal’s problems can’t wait that long.