Last week, we reported that Arsenal might be in for Granit Xhaka's Switzerland teammate Ricardo Rodriguez, a left back currently plying his trade at Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga. Today, the smoke around a potential Rodriguez transfer gained further traction, however tenuous that traction may be.
According to multiple reports on Twitter that appear to have come from the print version of the German newspaper Kicker, the 23-year-old Swiss international wants to join Arsenal and the Gunners are prepared to pay to get him.
Kicker: Ricardo Rodriguez wants to join Arsenal, who will activate his €25m release clause. Quality player for AFC as Wolfsburg disintigrate— Clark Whitney (@Mr_Bundesliga) May 30, 2016
€25m in Euros equates to around £19m in GBP, which seems like a steal for a young international player with a bunch of good years ahead of him. As far as current left backs are concerned, Nacho Monreal is 30 already and will be 31 before the end of the 2016-17 season, so Wenger is likely already thinking about finding someone to replace him. Moreover, Kieran Gibbs is likely looking to play first team football and doesn't seem to be good enough to snatch the space away from Monreal.
I'm no expert on the Bundesliga but wanted to provide some context on this possible signing for our readers who, like me, may not be as familiar with Rodriguez. I reached out to Aidan and bozz. Bozz regularly watches Wolfsburg and Aidan has gone back and watched some Wolfsburg games since our interest was first reported. I asked them each for a couple of sentences, but being overachievers they both wrote me full paragraphs. I'll go ahead and just include them here in their entirety.
RR is an excellent two-way leftback capable of impacting the game on both ends of the pitch. Though he's more inclined to go forward in attack than be a lockdown defender, his defense is nothing to scoff at as he's been regarded as one of the league's, and world's, best defenders for a couple seasons now. He's got a great physical profile, strong crossing skills and impeccable form on his free kicks, whether providing service to his teammates or firing on goal. His positioning can maybe stand to improve, but there really is no notable hole in his game either defensively or offensively. He's only 23 so he'll only get better in time even though he's already borderline world class.
Rodriguez seems like the archetypal offensively-oriented full back, which is fine, but less fine when your corresponding full back is Héctor Bellerín. He's a good crosser and a good set piece taker, which boosts his attacking numbers, and while his physical frame is above average for a full back, questions about his positioning, defensive discipline and reading of the game persist. He was by no means great defensively in this past Bundesliga season, and at £20m, and with Nacho Monreal having come off a stellar season, Arsenal have other priorities: centre back and an attacking player.
Either way, this looks to be heating up. Watch this space.