Despite splashing out some £80 million for reinforcements over the summer, Arsenal went without signing what many considered a key need – a defensive midfielder.
Arsene Wenger was widely expected to address what is widely viewed as a long-standing issue with his squad by bringing in a holding player in the centre of the park.
But after passing up on the chance to sign a long-term solution back in January, Wenger did so again when the transfer window opened once again in July.
And the results of his decision to hold back have been felt. The Gunners’ back four have not been adequately shielded and Arsenal sit in sixth place in the Premier League.
This, as January is fast approaching once again. Wenger will inevitably be expected to at last sign a holding midfielder, despite some claims he’ll focus on signing a centre-back.
According to the Mirror, the Frenchman will have £20 million to spend. Should he indeed be looking to sign a central defender, he could have £12 million left over for it should he look in the right place for a proper midfield addition.
Tutto Mercato Web report that Shakhtar Donetsk are willing to entertain offers for 22-year-old Fernando – who could well be exactly what the Gunners need.
The young Brazilian has impressed for the Ukrainian side during their Champions League campaign, starting all four group stage matches and having a positive impact.
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Taking on the likes of Porto, BATE Borisov and Athletic Bilbao, Fernando has roughly averaged a successful tackle every 27 minutes, an interception per 45 minutes and a ball recovery every 11 minutes.
In these key areas, he’s been out-performed by either Arteta or Flamini – in Premier League action – in just one this term. Flamini has made an interception just a tick over every 28 minutes thus far in the campaign, his body of work far greater.
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At 22, the Brazilian has plenty of room to grow. The numbers tell the story of an effective defensive presence in midfield, and playing under Wenger with veterans to help him along could take him to the next level - far outpacing Arteta and Flamini.
At the same time, the £8 million reportedly needed to sign him wouldn’t break the bank. Shakhtar boss Mircea Lucescu is said to see him as an important player, but the Brazilian has his price – and could be sold if it’s met.
Arsenal would do well to take notice and make a move for the Shakhtar star come the New Year, as Fernando’s arrival could address a long-term need at a reasonable expense.
Fixing the holding midfield issue would go a long way to improving the Gunners’ fortunes, with finding an adequate solution only becoming a more glaring necessity as time goes on.