Arsenal’s search for a defensive midfielder seems to be triparite in nature. In the past, it was thought to be a two way battle between French duo of Toulouse’s Ettiene Capoue and Lyon’s Maxime Gonalons. But now, it seems Celtic’s Kenyan midfield horse Victor Wanyama has been added to the list. According to the Sun, Wenger is keen on him.
‘Gunners boss and long term admirer Arsene Wenger is finally ready to spend big on the Kenyan midfielder and meet the SPL champions’ asking price. Celtic’s chiefs are also believed to be aware of Wenger’s interest and are bracing themselves for a huge offer for the 21-year-old who has two years left on his contract’.
His candidacy also has the blessings of former Arsenal legend Perry Groves.
“We need big players who can step up to the plate and make an impact against the bigger teams, because that is what let us down last year. We had a woeful record against the other teams in the top four.
We need strong mentalities, players who can impose themselves. I would like to see experienced lads who can come straight into the starting XI, not players who take time to gel.
I really like Wanyama. He is destined for big things. He may be young but he plays for a massive club, has lots of experience for a young player, and he fits the Wenger model. He is hungry, strong and technically very good. I think he would offer real protection for the back four, and a real thrust and drive going forward”.
Beyond it been just a battle amongst three players, it is also a battle amongst three tabloids. Goal is touting Ettiene Capoue, Dailymail says it is Maxime Gonalons and the Sun is claiming it is Victor Wanyama. Who wears the Viera shoes eventually? Time will tell. While we await the final verdict from Wenger, let’s consider the pros and cons of the three players to see which one would really make the cut at the Emirates.
Ettiene Capoue and Maxime Gonalons play in the French Ligue 1 while Victor Wanyama plays in the Scottish League. The fact there remains that the French Ligue 1 is a step above the SPL. In the Scottish league, there are just 2 top teams; Celtic and Rangers ( and we know what happened to Rangers ) and even those two will struggle to beat an average Premier League side which means Wanyama might be a force there owing to the low quality in Scotland and that’s unlike in France where there are plethora of quality teams (PSG, Lyon, Marseille to mention just a few). A player that is a force in France is likely to be a force in another bigger league. Both Capoue and Gonalons have received rare reviews in the French Ligue 1 which means they are good players judging by the Ligue 1 standard. Both are regulars for their Ligue 1 sides. Gonalons is Lyon’s captain while Capoue is a super-regular in the Toulouse side.
Also, for the defensive midfield role, French players seem to be a perfect fit. Patrick Viera, Claude Makelele and Mathieu Flamini are French players that have excelled in the defensive midfield role in the Premier league. They tend to have the physique, technical astuteness and discipline to thrive in the Premier League. In this regard, Capoue stands tall ahead of the rest of the chasing back. Wanyama is also big and strong but as for Gonalons, he plays defensive midfield but doesn’t look as strong as the other two but look could be deceptive. Koscielny doesn’t look big but his very strong on the ball and difficult to shrug off.
When it comes to playing style, Capoue is the most disciplined of the trio. A defensive midfielder’s job is primarily defensive than attacking and Capoue understands this perfectly unlike Wanyama who is more box to box and makes him akin to Song and Diaby. He is a defensive midfielder but likes forward runs and that might prove costly to the team. Gonalons is also a fan of forward runs and this might just prove costly.
Capoue and Wanyama are a bit more versatile than Gonalons. The French and Kenyan can play as defensive midfielder and also as a center back but Gonalons cannot. He is strictly a midfielder. His versatility in midfield isn’t as important as having the ability to play at central defence.
The price tag isn’t really an issue because they are within the same range though Gonalons might just be a little more expensive owing to the fact that he is captain of Lyon and with the French club in the UEFA Champions League, Aulas would loathe loosing his captain to Arsenal especially when he might be loosing another midfielder, Grenier to the Gunners. In terms of wages, they will earn almost the same in wages. Celtic wants 10 million Pounds for Wanyama while Toulouse are asking for 12 million Pounds for Capoue, Gonalons is rated in the 15 million Pounds bracket by Aulas.
In terms of age, they are all young players with Wanyama been the youngest (will be 22 this year), Capoue the oldest (will be 25 this year) and Gonalons 24. Despite the age differences, they all offer Arsenal long term solution should they prove their mettle in the Premier League and should Arsenal also decide to cash in, they also offer good resale value.
For experience, they boast of experience at high levels. Wanyama has experience in the Champions league having played and scored for Celtic against Barcelona and also at the international level with Kenya but he is yet to play at any major tournament owing to the Harambee stars’ failure to make it there. Gonalons boasts of Les Bleus
caps, having appeared for the French side 6 times, he also boasts of Champions League and Europa League experience having played in the competition with Lyon. As for Capoue, he also has 5 French caps but lack experience of European football. Never played Champions League or Europa League football. Toulouse have never made it there. Should he move to Arsenal, he might be fazed by the big European stage. The three targets offer aerial competence. They are all imposing and share the same height, 6 ft 2. Should Wenger sign any of them, they will offer assistance when the team is defending setpieces and also offensively when the Gunners have a setpiece.
Another area to consider is fitness. Arsenal fans wouldn’t want another Diaby. The trio have track record of sound fitness. Since 2008/2009 season, Capoue has not played less than 30 games for Toulouse and most of the matches has been as a starter. For Gonalons, in the last 2 seasons, he has played over 40 games per season
for Lyon and as for Wanyama, he has also played over 30 games for Celtic in each of the last 2 seasons.
Finally, in terms of awards which are recognitions of good job. Gonalons has never won a personal award but he boasts of a winning mentality having won the French Cup with Lyon. Capoue has never won a title with Toulouse but he made the French Ligue 1 team of the year in the 2011/2012 season which is a confirmation of his sound ability. Manning the defensive midfield position ahead of Yann M’Vila and Blaise Matuidi wasn’t a mean feat. As for Wanyama, he has won more trophies. The SPL back to back titles and the Scottish Cup. He has also previously won the SPL young player of the month and Premier League young player of the year.
With the facts elaborated above, it is crystal clear that the three targets are good enough to fill the defensive midfield void at Arsenal. Do you agree or have a dissenting opinion? Kindly share it in the comments.