It’s a new year, a new decade, and the start of a new era for Arsenal. Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Manchester United, the team’s performance, and the response from the Emirates crowd were all much needed relief after a frustrating 2019. Now with Mikel Arteta’s first win secured, and the FA Cup tie against Leeds United up next, the January transfer window comes into focus.
As is the nature of any transfer window, and especially at a club in tumultuous waters like Arsenal, there are a lot of rumors related to players coming and going. Will Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang push for a mid-season exit? Unlikely. Has Granit Xhaka already decided to head to Germany? Seems like a no. How can/should Arsenal deal with their defensive injuries and issues? That’s the one to focus on.
One of the inbound links has been with Juventus and French national team midfielder Adrien Rabiot. Italian outlet SportMediaset report that Rabiot may not be fully settled under new manager Maurizio Sarri and link the player with Arsenal and Everton. Now while we can’t speak to the validity of the connection or the outlet, would that move make sense for Arsenal?
Rabiot plays mostly as a defensive midfielder, a position where Arsenal have Granit Xhaka, Matteo Guendouzi, Lucas Torreira, Joe Willock, and Dani Ceballos. Ceballos is on loan this year and made the Arsenal bench for the first time in a while against Manchester United. Torreira was underused by Unai Emery, and Guendouzi and Willock are still young, but should improve with time under Arteta’s coaching.
That leaves Granit Xhaka and his links with a move to Hertha Berlin. A few days ago it looked liked the former captain was out the door, after being left out against Chelsea. Then we got word that Mikel Arteta has spoken with the player and his desire for him to stay at Arsenal, along with Xhaka’s solid performance against Manchester United.
Rabiot is listed around $35-40m. Not a bad price for an experienced midfielder, but a serious bid for him would seemingly be linked to an exit by Xhaka or an unexpected move/loan for another Arsenal midfielder.
The Gunners have more pressing needs along the backline. Saka had to play emergency left back for multiple matches. There is no true right back alternative to Hector Bellerin, even though Ainsley Maitland-Niles has adapted nicely. Calum Chambers is out for 6 to 9 months after tearing his ACL and undergoing surgery.
Rabiot might be a great fit for Arteta, but it’s doubtful the board would approve a 6th midfielder when backline improvements continue to be the number one priority. File this under more likely in the summer.