I’m going to be honest, Arsenal need a new left-back.
Nacho Monreal put in one of the worst defensive displays I have ever seen against Liverpool and Kieran Gibbs is no better when he isn’t sat on the bench.
If reports are to be believed, it would appear that Arsene Wenger agrees with me.
Faouzi Ghoulam is in a contract standoff with Napoli, and after what has been an impressive season, he is a target for both The Gunners and Chelsea.
Starting his career at St. Etienne in Ligue 1, he put in a number of assured performances upon breaking into the first-team, securing a £4.25m move to Naples in January of 2014.
The 26-year-old has stepped up his game since his move to Serie A, playing a crucial role in Napoli’s success in recent years, winning the Coppa Italia in his first season and the Supercoppa Italiana in his second.
However, the Algerian, capped 33 times at international level, is looking for a new challenge, and it would appear that a move to the Premier League could be just that.
But does Ghoulam provide a better option than Monreal?
Going forward, Ghoulam has completed 87% of his passes, exceeding Monreal’s 84%, an important stat in the ‘Arsenal way’.
He is also capable of providing for team mates, assisting four goal, double that of Monreal.
Ghoulam has also created a whopping 35 chances in just 21 games, an average of 1.67 per game. In comparison, Monreal has created just 10 in 24 games…10…not good enough.
Monreal’s successful take on percentage does exceed Ghoulam’s but it’s by a measly 1%. (60% to 61%)
So it’s clear that in an attacking sense, Ghoulam is by far the superior full-back, providing the perfect foil for Hector Bellerin in the opposite flank but, it would appear that Monreal is the superior defender, something that came as a shock to me.
The Arsenal defender has won 35 tackles to the Napoli man’s 20, however, Monreal has lost an incredibly poor 66 compared to just 21 for Ghoulam, who has also won 62% of his aerial duels, outdoing the 42.7% of Monreal.
Interceptions (67), blocks (7) and clearances (82) are all dominated by Monreal, with Ghoulam recording 24, 5 and 51 in each respective stat.
So, the stats appear to prove my theory about Monreal wrong but, it’s safe to say Paolo Maldini had my back when he said ‘If I have to make a tackle then I have already made a mistake’.
Whether Ghoulam is the right option defensively is yet to be seen but he looks like a huge upgrade offensively. Either way, a fresh face is needed, desperately needed.
With a market value of £12.75m according to transfermarkt, the Algerian seems like a low risk investment for a player who is built in the mould of the modern full-back and would suit Arsenal’s attacking style.
However, the interest of Chelsea, Premier League champions in the making, who play the Italian way under boss Antonio Conte and with a wing back system than he would slot seamlessly into, Ghoulam could conceivably choose Stamford Bridge over The Emirates.
Only time will tell I guess.