Arsenal have turned around since the New Year’s turn and there is a solid platform to build after embarking on the second full season of Michele Arteta in charge at Emirates Stadium.
Last summer there were significant additions in the form of Gabriel Magalhaes, Thomas Partey and Willian, although the latter took a long time after his crossing of London.
In January, the focus shifted to the landing of earned team members, who saw Mesut Ozil, Skadran Mustafi, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Sead Kolasinac leave.
Similar outings are expected to happen this summer as David Luiz sees his contract expire, while Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah have entered the final 12 months of their contracts.
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This leaves enough room for Edu and Arteta to maneuver in the market, and there are a number of positions in the team where he can improve.
The central midfield is one of those areas, especially with Dani Ceballos due to his return to Real Madrid at the end of the second season on loan at the club – leaving Partey, Granit Xhaki and Mohamed Elneny as the main options.
Three choices for these two roles are not enough, especially since Elneny will remain a team player, and questionnaires for Xhaka’s consistency and discipline are always present.
Partey is undoubtedly the leading man in this role, but he needs a solid and reliable partner – which can be where Yves Bissouma enters.
The 24-year-old has caught the eye with his performances for Brighton and is pushing for a transfer to join the Gunners in front of Leicester City, which is also reportedly in competition for his services.
Most importantly, he is a close friend of Arsenal duo Gabriel Magalhaes and Nicolas Pepe, with whom he was previously a teammate in Lille, which could give the Gunners another boost in the hunt.
That should help Bissoumi adjust quickly to life at Arsenal, but his potential impact on the field will appeal most to Arteta and the fans.
The duo in the Arsenal midfield is extremely important for Arteta’s plans, providing protection for the defense, while allowing those in front of them and the wing defenders to attack, while maintaining a strong ability on the stick with his distribution.
Using the Squawka comparison matrix, it is clear that there is no player in Arsenal’s squad who fulfills the same role – with Bissouma’s defensive contributions much, much greater than Partey, Xhaka and Ceballos.
International Mali have made an incredible 74 attempts in the Premier League this season and that is significantly more than Xhake, who has the most fights of three Arsenal players with 39.
In terms of interceptions, Bissouma scored 42, which is again significantly more than Arsenal’s triple, and Ceballos had the second largest with 29.
As such, it is clear that his defensive contributions are something that Arsenal lack, but he is also very strong on the ball, which also fits Arteta’s philosophy.
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Bissouma has tried 1283 passes this season, more than Partey and Ceballos, and has a pass accuracy percentage of 86.67% – just above Ceballos and narrowly below Partey.
Xhaka’s number is superior though, with a total of 1716 assists attempted and an addition accuracy percentage of 89.57%, which may indicate that Arsenal’s midfield distribution would suffer if it had to step aside. In fact, none of the aforementioned players are even close to Xhaka’s average of 68 attempts to pass in the game.
This highlights Xhaka’s role on the sidelines, which often passes under the radar, but most importantly, Arteta has made no secret of his long-term desire to play with a 4-3-3 formation – which could mean there is a role for all three.
Such kinds of potential changes could result in Emil Smith Rowe playing as an attacking midfielder in front of the pair, but in any case, Bissouma would be a solid addition to Arteta’s ranks.