Had this already when Ramsey went away: Rabiot is a difficult character and he's shown absolutely nothing exceptional at Juve. There's just far better options, imo would just be another Ceballos. Sometimes does a job but doesn't really elevate the midfield either.
This club needs to be a bit more creative, risky and pro-active again not just sign "big" name leftovers by top clubs. There's tons of interesting U23 midfielders out there with very interesting profiles, combining dynamics, passing, physicality, press resistance, mobility and defensive aptness who will also be on far lesser wages than someone like Rabiot ousted by Juve.
Much much rather go the Saliba, Gabriel, Martinelli, Tierney route than the Ceballos, Willian, David Luiz route. More financial upside, a healthier wage and age structure, etc.
God forbid Arsenal sign Rabiot and/or Douglas Costa, bringing in more top club rejects on massive wages.
For a long time, it has been difficult to imagine Arsenal without Hector Bellerin. This summer, he will mark 10 years since leaving Barcelona for England. He is the club’s vice-captain and speaks his adopted language with an inimitable north London twang. Arsenal has become his home.
Recent reports have suggested, however, that Bellerin could be willing to leave Arsenal in the forthcoming transfer window. It would not be the first time he has considered a possible departure. The Athletic understands Bellerin has previously contemplated embracing a new challenge but has always respected Arsenal’s desire to keep him. He has certainly been an important player for Mikel Arteta, starting 22 Premier League games this season — more than any other outfield player.
However, he will shortly turn 26. With two years remaining on his current contract, now is the time for Arsenal to decide whether to extend his deal or sell him. If the player is still minded to experience another league, this may be an opportune moment for the club to cash in.
Of course, he would still need to be replaced. Although Cedric has impressed as his deputy, he was acquired as a squad player rather than a starter. The Portuguese full-back will turn 30 at the start of the 2021-22 season, so does not offer a long-term solution. Neither Ainsley Maitland-Niles (on loan at West Bromwich Albion) nor Calum Chambers views themselves as right-backs.
Since Arteta took charge of Arsenal, Bellerin’s role has changed somewhat. Rather than overlapping, he’s often asked to underlap, as well as tucking in as a third central midfielder. With Kieran Tierney permitted to get forward, Bellerin’s role is necessarily a little more conservative.
Arteta also relies on the former La Masia player to assist with Arsenal’s build-up play. Looking at Bellerin’s profile on smarterscout, you can see that ball progression is his key trait. Smarterscout gives players a rating from 0-99, relating to either how often a player does a given stylistic action compared with others playing in his position (eg, volume of shots), or how effective they are (eg, how well they progress the ball upfield).
Bellerin scores well for expected goals (xG) from ball progression, but low for progressive passing. This indicates he rarely passes the ball forward further than 10 metres. Instead, he mainly contributes to ball progression via his dribbling ability and getting on the end of passes in the final third. His strong link-up play score shows a player capable of passing the ball quickly over short spaces, but not necessarily playing killer passes between the lines.
We can use smarterscout to assess some potential targets for Arsenal, should they choose to replace Bellerin. We’ve tried to focus only on plausible signings — for example, the most similar player that smarterscout suggested to Bellerin was Manchester City’s Joao Cancelo, but that name was immediately crossed off the list of realistic targets.
The coronavirus pandemic has had serious financial implications for Arsenal, a club more dependent on match-day revenue than most of their immediate competitors. If they are working with a restricted budget, Elseid Hysaj’s name may come into consideration: in the summer he is set to be available on a Bosman free transfer.
Although a regular starter under Maurizio Sarri, Hysaj has fallen down the pecking order in Naples, in part due to the uncertainty over his contractual situation. That versatility could prove useful to Arteta in an emergency — Cedric has already played both positions in north London this season.
To properly assess his ability as a right-back, we will use his pizza chart from 2018-19, since that is the most recent season with a sufficient sample size of appearances in that position.
There is quite a lot of synergy between his profile and that of Bellerin — although he receives the ball in the opponent’s penalty box plenty of times, his passing appears conservative and not especially progressive. On the defensive side, his numbers are above average without being spectacular.
Replacing Bellerin with a 27-year-old Hysaj is most likely a decision Arsenal would only take for budgetary reasons.
Age: 27 (turns 28 on March 5)
Senegal international Youssouf Sabaly is another right-back available on a free transfer this summer. Stylistically, he is quite different from Bellerin or Hysaj: he is more of a natural defender; a stopper rather than a passer or carrier.
Sabaly is not an especially active defender. His intensity there is measured according to the actions he does make, and smarterscout’s model attempts to identify the most relevant defender on each opposition touch. This, then, means that Sabaly is a defender who’s present, but not always pressuring. He tends to defend the space and not the man. This may be down to Bordeaux’s more passive tactical approach — or equally, may be indicative of a player more reliant on positional play.
On the ball, he’s heavily involved in linking play and is an above-average retainer of possession (50/99 being average here). He offers little in the form of attacking threat though — neither through contributing to shots nor progressing the ball upfield.
He is, however, stronger one-on-one than Bellerin, with a dribble rating of 72/99 and a tackle rating of 54/99. These ratings are calculated by considering the quality of opponent in duels up to this point, and acts as a weighted measure, giving him more credit for tackling good one-on-one dribblers (eg, Lionel Messi) and getting past good one-on-one defenders (eg, Aaron Wan-Bissaka). Bellerin’s dribbling rating is 24/99, and his tackling rating is 21/99, both low figures for a full-back.
Like Hysaj, he is also capable of providing cover on the left. He is reasonably two-footed — even when playing on the right, he is occasionally happy cutting infield to cross with his left foot. However, versatility should not be the key consideration when looking for a signing to be a starter.
Club: RB Leipzig
Now we’re talking. Nordi Mukiele looks to be someone who can make significant contributions at both ends of the pitch.
One of the issues when assessing Mukiele is the fact he has played relatively few minutes as a pure right-back this season. A lot of his football has been played as a wing-back — effectively an extra midfielder.
That could, however, make him a good fit for Arteta’s system. He is an excellent progressor of the ball and is clearly happy to get forward. With a score of 98/99, he receives an extremely high volume of passes inside the opposition penalty box.
He’s a two-way player, though. He has a high volume of defensive contributions and executes the relevant actions to a high standard.
Mukiele’s tendency to get forward makes it tempting to think of him more as a winger than a full-back. However, he is not a great one-on-one dribbler (7/99 rating at right-back) and is a great tackler (70/99). He’s also strong in the air, with a score for aerial ability of 58/99 as opposed to Bellerin’s 8/99. As with dribbling, this measure credits players beating those that are difficult to beat in the air (eg, Yerry Mina). For years, Bacary Sagna provided a good aerial target for long passes from the goalkeeper. Mukiele seems to have the capacity to provide that outlet if required. At 23, he fits the right kind of age profile to be anointed as Bellerin’s successor.
Of course, a player like this comes at a price. Leipzig signed Mukiele for €16 million in the summer of 2018. Were he to come on the market this summer, he would likely fetch as much as twice that.
The Athletic go in depth about potential Bellerin replacements. 5 pics maximum in posts so I've had to split.
Arsenal fans will remember Tariq Lamptey’s senior debut better than most. In December 2019, he came on for Fikayo Tomori in the 59th minute, helping inspire Chelsea to come from behind to win 2-1.
That was Arteta’s first match in charge at the Emirates Stadium. He will have kept close tabs on Lamptey’s development since then, and the youngster has produced some sparkling performances for Brighton, whom he joined just over 12 months ago.
Like Mukiele, a lot of his football has been played as a wing-back, which skews his data slightly. Making like-for-like comparisons with Bellerin is therefore difficult.
Still, we can see he’s someone who carries the ball a lot, and he’s about average (again, 50/99 is average) for his contribution to shots and ball progression.
He’s a dribbler, but it doesn’t always come off. Notably, he ranks sixth in Opta’s data this season for full-back/wing-backs for take-ons per 90 minutes (3.8) yet only completes 35 per cent of them, putting him 54th out of 58 players. That aligns with his smarterscout dribble rating of just 8/99 when playing at right-back.
He’s got wheels, though, and is comfortable carrying the ball too. He averages 210 metres of carrying distance per 90 minutes, which places him 11th out of 54 in that group. That speed is likely why he’s such an intense defender too, allowing him to get up and down the wing and defend his space.
Unsurprisingly for a player who stands 5ft 5in, he doesn’t participate in — let alone win — many aerial duels. He’s challenged for the ball aerially so infrequently that smarterscout doesn’t even have a rating for him and his win rate of 31 per cent is the 51st out of 58 for full-backs and wing-backs.
The big caveat to offer here, however, is that Lamptey is only 20. The all-round package looks a little raw, but there’s definitely potential there to work with.
Club: PSV Eindhoven
Holland international Denzel Dumfries is an intriguing mixture of different qualities: a good dribbler, a strong tackler, and very accomplished in the air.
Dumfries recently made headlines after an on-field altercation with Ajax’s Dusan Tadic. The pair had a verbal exchange, which led to Dumfries telling an interviewer after the game, “I don’t want to point the finger right now, but you shouldn’t talk about my mother. I do not appreciate that and you just should not do that, it does not belong on the football field or next to it.”
He likes to get forward. Last season he scored seven times for PSV, although his attacking output is a little down in 2020-21.
His physical traits have led to some suggesting he would be better suited to playing in the centre of defence. “With his power, physicality and speed, he has qualities to play in that position,” says former Dutch international Wim Kieft. “Still, if he gets a little more comfortable on the ball, Dumfries can join many European top clubs as a right-back.”
Clearly, he needs to improve the technical side of his game. His ball retention rating of 37/99 is substantially lower than some of the alternatives in this piece. In a possession-heavy team such as Arteta’s Arsenal, this is a concern.
Nevertheless, this is a player worth keeping an eye on. Only other four full-backs in 2020-21 have comparable numbers when it comes to duelling on the ground and in the air: Paul McGinn of Hibs, Django Warmerdam of Utrecht, former Arsenal academy player Marc Bola, and another former Gunner Nacho Monreal, who is still going strong in Spain at Real Sociedad.
One of the regions in which Arsenal may have a competitive advantage over some of their rivals is South America. Technical director Edu knows the market well, and since 2019, Arsenal have moved to sign Gabriel Martinelli and Pablo Mari from Brazilian clubs.
Gabriel Menino has enjoyed a rapid rise to the top. He made his professional debut in a 4-0 win over Martinelli’s former team, Ituano, in January 2020. Since then he has triumphed in a Copa Libertadores final and received his first call-up to the Brazilian national squad. He doesn’t even turn 21 until September.
Much of Menino’s football has been played in holding midfield, but he is equally adept at full-back. He is an extremely versatile player, and profiles more like a winger when operating at full-back. A lack of defensive intensity suggests he’s not especially quick to work back when he is caught upfield.
He retains possession moderately well and his intelligent movement enables him to receive the ball in threatening areas. A rating of 94/99 for xG from shot creation is the pick of the bunch.
He is a decent tackler (66/99), and the strongest dribbler among this selection (83/99). At 20, he is certainly an attractive prospect — but it remains to be seen how he might adapt to the demands of European football.
Norwich full-back Max Aarons jumps out of the data set as a good match for Bellerin’s profile.
Playing in the Championship, he has been liberated from a lot of defensive responsibility. He is comfortable dribbling with the ball and linking play on the right-hand side with Emi Buendia ahead of him. Given Arsenal’s long-standing interest in the Argentinian, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that they could seek to reunite Norwich’s right side in north London.
Aarons has just one goal and no assists this season — a slight surprise given his solid ball progression and shot creation figures. He’s a decent tackler (58/99) but struggles in the air (3/99). This was one of the reasons Arsenal previously chose not to target Aarons — they feel he lacks height and an ability to play long crossfield passes.
More porn for guys that think Bellerin is holding back the manager and the club.
I think you take the £22m and run if that's true to be honest. I like Hector but it's been clear the last few years he's not good enough anymore. In that period AMN, Chambers and Cedric have all looked better than him at RB and neither of those will ever be long term starters in that position for us.
I've no idea who should be bought to replace him, we can only hope Arteta/Edu get it right.