As Granit Xhaka gets closer to leave Arsenal for Jose Mourinho’s AS Roma, the Gunners are on the lookout for a replacement, and Wolves star Ruben Neves is reportedly our number one target this summer.
The Times revealed over the weekend that Arsenal have already started working on a deal to bring the Portugal international to the Emirates. It is claimed that he will be available for about £35 million, with Wolves open to selling him.
Neves would really be a solid replacement for Xhaka. Both players are fairly similar with respect to their brilliance on the ball, quality in their long shots and ability to control the game from a deeper area.
The Wolves star, on paper, would be a really good player for Arsenal, but is he really a big upgrade on Xhaka? Let’s see what the stats say.
Stat analysis: Granit Xhaka vs Ruben Neves
In his 31 appearances for Arsenal in the Premier League last season, Xhaka averaged 1.6 tackles, 0.8 interceptions and 1.2 clearances per game. He ended the campaign with one goal and two assists with an average of 0.7 shots at goal and 0.5 key passes per 90 minutes. (WhoScored)
His passing, predictably, was his standout trait. Xhaka averaged 70.6 passes per game with a stunning accuracy of 90.2%. He attempted 4.2 long balls per game as well, but he committed one error leading to a shot and two leading to a goal while in possession, which is really poor. (SofaScore)
Neves, on the other hand, averaged 2.4 tackles and 1.6 interceptions per game, both superior to Xhaka’s. His 1.1 clearances falls just short of the Arsenal man’s tally, but his offensive numbers more than makes up for it.
The Wolves man scored five goals and provided an assist in the league last season, boasting of an average of 1.9 shots and 0.9 key passes every game.
Neves’ passing isn’t quite on the same level as Xhaka as he averages about 15 less per game with an accuracy of 84.4%. However, his better chance creation rate and 5.3 long balls per game brings both players a lot closer. (WhoScored)
The standout difference here is that Neves hasn’t committed an error leading to a goal in any of the last three Premier League seasons. That is mind-blowing considering that Xhaka committed two last season alone. (SofaScore)
The Insider’s View:
Both Xhaka and Neves, as expected, are fairly close to each other in terms of numbers. However, if you take all the factors into perspective, the Wolves man really is a level above the Swiss international.
Neves beats the Arsenal man in most stats while playing in a counter-attacking team. Wolves’ average possession in the Premier League is under 50%, which explains why his passing numbers aren’t quite as high as Xhaka’s.
With Xhaka close to leaving Arsenal, a replacement has to be a priority. Neves, who is four years younger than the Swiss international, is a lot more well rounded as a player and rarely ever makes mistakes, would certainly be a big upgrade, but it won’t be easy to land him.