Arsenal fans were generally delighted when they signed Lucas Torreira from Sampdoria last year, with the 23-year-old Uruguayan bringing a welcome combination of tenacity and composure to the Gunners midfield so often lacking those traits. His impressive first season has led to suggestions that Unai Emery could return to the Genoa-based club for more of its crown jewels. With some online bookmaking sites giving good deals on Arsenal’s first signing for the new window coming from Sampdoria, we took a closer look.
SampNews24 reported that Arsenal had tabled bids totalling more than €50m for defender Joachim Andersen and midfielder Dennis Praet. The former is a tall centre-back who is comfortable with playing the ball out from the back, while the latter can play as an attacking or deep-lying midfielder and has been touted as a like-for-like replacement for Aaron Ramsey.
Comparisons with the Juventus-bound Welshman are flawed, however. Ramsey has been one of the most complete midfielders Arsenal have had since their last Premier League title-winning side of 2004. An astute distributor of the ball with an eye for a killer pass, while also committing to the defensive aspect of the game when the Gunners don’t have the ball, it seems mind-boggling that the north London club have allowed him to leave for free.
Praet is not nearly as well-rounded or effective as the man he is being touted to replace. While his passing completion rate for 2018/19 is slightly higher than Ramsey’s (87.3% versus 83.4%), the Welshman trumps him hands down for chance creation. In 98 Serie A games for Sampdoria, Praet has seven assists to his name, one every 14 matches. In Ramsey’s 262 Premier League outings, he has claimed 51 assists, just under one every four games.
If Arsenal are looking for a prolific midfielder to ease the scoring burden on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, Praet is not that man. In three seasons for Sampdoria, he has contributed a paltry tally of four goals, netting only twice this campaign in 36 starts. Ramsey started just 14 games for Arsenal in 2018/19 but ended the season with seven goals. Also, he leaves Arsenal with a tally of 65 goals in nearly 400 appearances.
There are plenty of prolific attacking midfielders around the continent who would be well within Arsenal’s budget, so it seems quite surprising that they are considering Praet as a player who will contribute enough goals to help them break back into the top four. They’ve already erred in letting Ramsey run down his contract; they need to ensure that any potential replacement could at least match the Welshman’s scoring and creativity ratio.