Another transfer looks set to pass Arsenal by.
When Arsene Wenger finally stepped down from his role as the manager it was believed that change was afoot. There was excitement over the appointment of scouting guru Sven Mislantat and the appointment of Unai Emery brought fresh hope to the Arsenal fans.
The summer transfer window treated them well as they gambled and won with the signing of Lucas Torreira. It’s important to remember that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was bought with the next manager after Wenger in mind.
Yet, this January feels worryingly similar to other transfer windows at the Emirates.
It is clear that Arsenal need to strengthen their squad.
It is not clear that they are going to do so, even if Emery is telling us he is hopeful of bringing in two players before the window shuts.
And, in true Arsenal fashion, those players they are being linked to do not appear to be in the positions that actually need strengthening.
The name that has been linked to Arsenal most in January is Barcelona‘s Denis Suarez.
It is believed that the Barcelona midfielder is insisting he will only join Arsenal.
Arsenal want him on a loan deal and Barcelona are holding out for a permanent transfer.
All that is well and good, but is he even a player Arsenal need right now – even with Aaron Ramsey leaving in the summer?
This analysis will explain why Arsenal should not be looking to sign Denis Suarez – on a loan, or otherwise.
Who is Denis Suarez?
Let’s have a look at Suarez’s profile.
As you can see from the image above, Denis Suarez is considered to be a midfielder who favours the left-hand side.
That said, he is a versatile player capable of playing in any of the midfield roles.
With Unai Emery not really appearing to have a preferred framework at Arsenal yet it is hard to predict where Suarez would fit in. My prediction would be as one of the two ‘eights’ if Arsenal play 433, a role he could also play in the 4231 alongside a Matteo Guendozi or Lucas Torreira.
Equally, with Emery liking a midfield diamond Suarez could eventually take the place of Ramsey at the tip.
It is important to point out, Suarez is far from a fixture in the Barcelona side with other more illustrious names ahead of him in the pecking order.
In fact, it isn’t just illustrious names getting more playing time than Suarez currently as we have seen Carles Alena, a product of La Masia, preferred in midfield in recent matches.
I felt it would make sense to compare Suarez to two current Arsenal midfielders to see whether his statistics match up to the current levels in the Arsenal squad.
As many consider Suarez to be the replacement for Ramsey we will compare the two.
I’ve also decided to compare him to Ainsley Maitland-Niles who, like Suarez, is a versatile midfielder capable of playing in a variety of roles.
Above, we can see the key statistics from Suarez’s Barcelona career to date.
As he is an attack-minded midfielder, some are more relevant than others; for example, I am less bothered by duels won, aerial duels won and interceptions although you could argue that with Emery preferring an aggressive press starting from the front that these stats are still relevant.
I am particularly interested in the total successful actions where he averages 93.76 per 90 minutes with a completion ratio of 66.1%.
Suarez’s pass completion % of 83.5% is hardly life-changing either.
However, when you compare Suarez to Ramsey it suddenly gets a little more interesting.
Ramsey has fewer total actions in a match over the course of his career although his % success is marginally higher at 67.3%.
Ramsey has a pass completion % of 86.1% which is clearly better than Suarez – we also have to ask the question around Suarez having a poorer pass completion % in a Barcelona side? What would that look like in an Arsenal side less focussed on ball retention?
As you can see from the two images, Suarez is more explosive on the ball than Ramsey given the higher number of successful dribbles per 90.
That only tells us they are different players though, as Ramsey is better known for his runs into the box without the ball.
You can compare some of the other statistics yourself to get even more of a feel of a comparison.
Let’s bring Ainsley Maitland-Niles into the equation.
Immediately you can see that Maitland-Niles is behind both Suarez and Ramsey in many areas – but not by that much at all.
Why is that relevant? Surely Arsenal are looking to recruit players that can improve the squad?
Well, yes and no.
I would say that Maitland-Niles, given how infrequently he gets to play in the same position, is already showing great potential in his output.
If it was a choice between spending vast sums of money on a transfer or loan fee then wages on top versus putting time and effort into an Academy graduate who is clearly on the right path, I know which one I would choose.
Given the potential expense of Denis Suarez and the fact that Arsenal have at least one talented young Academy graduate capable of playing the same role, I would not be signing the player.
Bringing Suarez in would not only block the pathway for some homegrown talent but, more importantly, would be tying up more of that budget (which we are led to believe is tight enough as it is) in a player that is not needed.
Given that Arsenal have a defensive injury crisis on their hand and that when all the defenders are fit they still need improvements in that area I would be urging the Gunners not to bring in the Barcelona midfielder.
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