The deep-lying midfield pairing has been an issue for Arsenal all season long, arguably even since the days of Patrick Vieira and Gilberto Silva. Lacking athleticism, a box-to-box influence, leadership and with a clear inability to dominate a game, something new is needed to give the Gunners a bit of dynamism in the middle of the park.
The answer to this blatant problem could be a young German midfielder, who many have predicted to follow in the footsteps of Toni Kroos and achieve stardom.
Leon Goretzka is a 22-year-old midfielder, currently plying his trade at Schalke in the German Bundesliga. Goretzka has been with the Royal Blues since his 2013 move from hometown club VFL Bochum, who he joined in 2001, aged just six. Schalke signed him for just €4 million and it’s been a smart investment that could yield a huge profit come the summer.
Having made 111 appearances across all competitions for the Gelsenkirchen side, Goretzka is currently enjoying his best season at the club, despite their mid-table struggles. In 34 appearances, the midfielder has managed seven goals, doubling his total tally for the club while often being the first name on Schalke manager Markus Weinzierl’s teamsheet. He has also earned himself three Germany caps after representing the nation at every youth level from under 16’s upwards.
So, what qualities does the 22-year-old possess that could benefit Arsenal both next season and in the future?
His defensive stats are impressive, making 61 interceptions in 24 Bundesliga games this season, just six less than much heralded Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante, in six fewer games no less. His four blocks match that of Kante, while Goretzka is far more dominant in aerial duels, winning 41% compared to the Frenchman’s 33%, helped largely by his 6ft 2in frame.
Kante’s 43 clearances and 69 tackles massively exceed Goretzka’s 20 and 38, respectively, but at just 22 years of age, the German has plenty of time to develop his already impressive defensive game. Although often deployed in a deep-lying role, his tall frame and long stride make him a presence all over the pitch, while he is capable of operating as a central midfielder and in an attacking midfield role. As previously mentioned, his seven goals this season are a personal best, highlighting the big steps he has taken in his development this campaign.
His 79% pass completion is poor and needs work but, Goretzka has completed more forward passes (525) than he has backward ones (420), providing an attacking impetus that an often sideways Arsenal are in desperate need of. This notion is backed up by 27 key passes and 28 chances created from his holding role.
It’s clear Goretzka is able to contribute all over the pitch, providing a calm presence and mature attitude that belies his age, as well as vigour, energy and driving force, attributes that Arsenal’s midfield has been crying out for. At just 22, the German has yet to reach his best but, is already performing at a high level and has many years ahead of him at the top end of world football.
Valued at £17 million according to Transfermarkt, his Schalke contract expires next summer and the club may be forced to sell this, in order to stop their prize asset departing for nothing. That sounds awfully familiar, doesn’t it?
I’m a huge fan of Leon Goretzka and have been for a while. Trust me, this guy will be one of the world’s best midfielders in about five or so years’ time.
He has everything that Arsenal need in midfield and would be a huge player for the club, both immediately and in the long-term. He has reportedly been scouted by the likes of Real Madrid, Juventus and Bayern Munich in the past, representing a huge coup for Arsenal, should we get our hands on him.
I really want him at The Emirates, and you should too.