It’s that time of year. Another year, another January is coming up, and it gets you thinking. About where you are, about your future plans. Sometimes you ring an ex up, just to talk…
For footballers, it’s no different. Surplus to requirements at Barcelona, Denis Suárez been told he can be let go for £14million, and his representatives have dropped a text to Arsenal, managed by one of Suárez’s former managers in Unai Emery.
The offer must be tempting for the club, with Aaron Ramsey nearing the exit door. If Arsenal want to make any money from the Welshman before his contract expires in the summer, they’ll need to sell him this winter.
Suárez looks a very apt replacement for Ramsey too. The two players’ persona radars overlap considerably, showing that they’ve played similar roles for their respective clubs over the past few seasons.
Suárez also played under Emery for a period at Sevilla, which is an obvious advantage. The manager will know his game well and, if Arsenal are interested this is a ready-made replacement.
With Suárez still only 24, they’ll be trading Ramsey in for a younger model.
Is Ramsey replacement the right choice?
It’s interesting that the pair show up as so similar according to their persona radars given that they play different positions on the team sheet. Suárez, partly in his quest for any game-time he can get, has shifted around attacking positions. He pops up in the centre of attacking midfield, as well as on the wings, whereas Ramsey is strictly a central figure.
This is a good thing for Arsenal, because a direct replacement for the Welshman probably isn’t what they need. The 27-year-old has been something of a problem for Emery, a player who doesn’t quite fit into the new manager’s system. The centre of midfield works as a two, and the combination of Lucas Torreira and Granit Xhaka — despite what people say about the latter — works quite well.
Ramsey isn’t alone in this regard. Mesut Özil is similarly problematic, while having to keep both Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang happy is a task of man-management more than tactics.
Such are the perils of inheriting a squad that someone else built.
Very interestingly, Suárez often played on the left side of midfield during his season on loan at Sevilla in 2014/15. While Alex Iwobi has impressed there, it’s been one of the areas where a regular option hasn’t emerged, Aubameyang, Iwobi, and Danny Welbeck all taking up the role.
Suárez’s flexibility will come in useful though, able to play in any spot behind the striker in a 4-2-3-1. His link-up play — combining vision for team-mate runs with deft touches — makes him a good fit for the kind of ‘playing around the edge of the opposition box’ football that Arsenal so often end up playing.
If Emery wants his team to be more fast-paced, then Suárez also offers the type of dribbling that is presumably banned in the first-team (coincidentally, as a side note, Suárez came through the Barcelona youth system with another talented dribbler, Adama Traoré).
Arsenal will need to battle with a number of other clubs if they want to take up the very nice looking offer of £14m for the midfielder. Barcelona, clearly looking to get him off their books, have reportedly offered him to a number of clubs, with Chelsea another Premier League team who are said to be interested.
At such a low price, the purchase is almost a no-brainer, especially when you look at how Suárez would match up with the attacking midfield positions, on the left or in the centre particularly, with the present Arsenal set-up.