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Opinion – Arsenal should replace their German liability with this Bundesliga prodigy in the summer

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Ibrahima Konate

Why Ibrahima Konate would be an ideal signing for Arsenal in the summer

According to the Daily Mail, Arsenal are scouting RB Leipzig centre-back Ibrahima Konate, with Unai Emery looking to shore up his leaky back-line in the summer.

The report claims that the Gunners are likely to face stiff competition from Chelsea and West Ham, with both the Premier League clubs keeping close tabs on the 19-year-old.

The French youth international made his move to the Bundesliga back in the summer of 2017, following a successful breakout season with Sochaux in Ligue 2. Konate hasn’t looked back since and has established himself as one of the key components in Leipzig’s back-line. He was used occasionally in his first season but has earned the role of a regular starter this term, starting on 16 occasions in the Bundesliga.

Standing at 6ft 4inches with a towering stature, the Frenchman has the perfect height for a centre-back. He is not only adept at beating his offensive counterparts to the aerial balls, but also knows how to use his physicality to good effect, keeping the opposition at bay with his superior upper body strength.

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The youngster is quite agile for a player of his stature and has already shown signs of maturing into a commanding presence at the heart of the defence.

Konate averages 3.6 aerial duels, 1.8 tackles, 2.4 interceptions and 3.1 clearances per game in the Bundesliga this term, figures which speak volumes of his well-rounded abilities as a centre-back. A deeper insight into the statistics shows that he has completed 28 of his attempted 31 tackles, with the opposition managing to dribble past him only thrice in 16 games. (Whoscored.com)

In all honesty, he has shown maturity and composure that belie his tender years and it would be fair to say that the youngster is ready to take the next big step in his career.

To put things into perspective, he would be a wonderful signing for Arsenal, with the Gunners struggling for consistency at the back this season. Laurent Koscielny and Sokratis Papastathopoulos have done a decent job after spending time on the sidelines due to injuries but the club needs to find a replacement for Shkodran Mustafi.

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The German has struggled for both form and fitness under Unai Emery. He has never looked like the player who was a World Cup winner with Germany in 2014. Hence, the best option would be to replace him. On the other hand, Rob Holding is suffering from a long-term injury.

Read More: Go for it Emery – Arsenal must surely beat Man City to land this perfect 23-year-old full-back in the summer

Hence, Arsenal need more options at the back ahead of the upcoming season to avoid a potential burnout and Ibrahima Konate would be a good understudy to Koscielny and Sokratis. That said, the Gunners should go all out to sign him.

 

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Arsenal would pull off a shrewd move by signing this 25-year-old Bundesliga powerhouse with £22m release clause

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Arsenal Opinion: Kerem Demirbay would be the perfect Ramsey replacement

According to Metro, Arsenal are interested in signing 25-year-old Hoffenheim midfielder Kerem Demirbay in the summer, as manager Unai Emery looks to find a cheap alternative to Aaron Ramsey, who is set to join Juventus on a free transfer at the end of the season.

The same report claims that the German-born, Turk-blooded central midfielder has a release clause of just £22million in his contract and Arsenal have already made contact with Hoffenheim over a potential deal in the summer.

The Gunners would need to fend off competition from several top Turkish clubs if they are to get their hands on the coveted Bundesliga playmaker. (h/t Metro)

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Kerem Demirbay is currently one of the most underrated midfielders in Europe and has been in terrific form for Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga this season, helping his team to 6th in the standings.

The 25-year-old has contributed with 4 goals and 6 assists from 22 appearances in the league, all of those coming from a deep position in the midfield.

Demirbay represented Turkey at the youth level before switching his allegiance to represent Germany at the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia. He rose to prominence in the 2.Bundesliga with a 10-goal season for Fortuna Dusseldorf and his heroics earned him a move to top-flight outfit Hoffenheim in 2016.

He hasn’t looked back since then and has established himself as one of the mainstays of a side that has climbed up the pyramid very rapidly, making it to the Europa League and Champions League in successive seasons.

The 25-year-old boasts of an impressive tally of 12 goals and 24 assists from 84 appearances for Hoffenheim in all competitions.

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To put things into perspective, the acquisition of Kerem Demirbay would be an absolute steal for Arsenal in the summer as he seemingly has all the attributes to replace Ramsey.

With Mesut Ozil falling out of favour and Henrikh Mkhitaryan not living up to the expectations, Arsenal need to revamp their midfield options and a versatile and dynamic player like Demirbay would certainly help them solve a lot of problems.

Demirbay is a dynamic player in the sense that he can operate in No.6, No.8 and No.10 roles in the midfield but, much like Ramsey, the German is at his best when deployed in an attacking role.

Blessed with quick feet and remarkable speed of thought, Demirbay not only has the dribbling ability to find space in the middle of the park but he contributes a lot with his creativity and vision as well.

Known as a tenacious player with high levels of stamina, the 25-year-old is capable of adding energy to the midfield, while also possessing the ability to dictate the play with his impressive range of passing.

The German international carries the ball forward with pace and links up with his teammates to work the pockets of space and break the opposition’s lines.

To go with his creativity and goalscoring prowess, Demirbay is someone who offers a lot defensively as well, with his work-rate off the ball making him a complete all-round player.

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Gifted with a good understanding of the game and strong on the tackle, Demirbay likes to press the opposition off the ball and often succeeds in winning back possession for his team. Furthermore, he is a recognised distance shooter who has the ability to let fly from range with both feet.

The 25-year-old boasts of a pass success rate of 80.4, including 2.3 shots, 3,1 key passes, 2.1 dribbles and 2.1 tackles in the Bundesliga, figures which speak volumes of his well-rounded attributes as a central midfielder.

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Arsenal pulled off a massive bargain with the signing of Matteo Guendouzi last summer and Kerem Demirbay is exactly the sort of player that the Gunners should look at as the German can offer good value for money, while also being a perfect fit for Emery’s philosophy. Having said that, they should go all out in their pursuit of the Bundesliga maestro in the summer.

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8 clearances, 2 tackles: This Arsenal defender was one of the main reasons behind the club’s 1-0 win vs Napoli

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Arsenal Opinion: Laurent Koscielny starred in a defensive masterclass against Napoli

Arsenal made it through to the semi-finals of the UEFA Europa League with a 1-0 victory over Napoli in the second leg of the quarterfinal tie away at the Stadio San Paolo on Thursday night, courtesy of a brilliant free-kick from Alexandre Lacazette.

Having won the first leg 2-0 at the Emirates last week, the Gunners carried a major advantage into the return leg and an away goal was always going to put the tie beyond Napoli’s reach.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side were expected to put in a valiant effort to overturn the deficit on their home turf and it was Napoli who started off as the brighter of the two sides. Jose Callejon called veteran Petr Cech into action and the Serie A outfit registered a flurry of shots, only to be kept at bay by some resolute and stubborn defending from the Gunners.

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Emery fielded a back four against Watford on Monday but he reverted to his a back-three system against Napoli, with Sead Kolasinac and Ainsley Maitland-Niles playing as wing-backs.

And it has to be said that the manager’s plan was executed to perfection by the likes of Koscielny, Sokratis and Monreal, though the latter did look a bit shaky on a few occasions.

On a night where Arsenal didn’t have much of the ball and Napoli largely dictated terms in the final third, the defenders looked content to sit back and absorb the pressure.

Arsenal have come under criticism at times for their porous backline this season but the defenders rose to the occasion as a unit and managed to protect the lead.

They were aided by some good goalkeeping from Petr Cech and some average shooting from the Napoli attackers, as evident from the stats which show that the Italians managed to get only 2 of their attempted 20 shots on target.

Arsenal had only 30% of the possession on the night but the Gunners had plenty of positives to take from their gritty performance. Prior to this game, it was hard to believe that Arsenal could, in fact, win games by defending deep and their strong defensive showing away from home is likely to be welcomed wholeheartedly by the club faithful.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles has really come of age this season and the youngster put up another strong display on Thursday night but it was none other than club-captain Laurent Koscielny who led from the front by example and held things together at the back.

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Koscielny, 33, might be nearing the twilight of his career but he is currently enjoying a purple patch. Arsenal really missed his services earlier in the season when he was out injured and they now look a lot more secure at the back with their captain leading from the front.

Playing at the heart of a back three, Koscielny hardly made a single mistake under immense pressure from Napoli and dealt with almost everything that came his way. The Frenchman showcased great positional awareness and aerial prowess in an authoritative defensive display that spoke of pure class.

Koscielny registered a total of 8 clearances, 2 tackles and 1 interception, while also catching the opposition offside on 3 occasions.

Napoli were caught offside on 6 occasions throughout the ninety minutes and Koscielny ensured with his leadership qualities that his teammates all held a good line. Arsenal used the offside trap really well and Koscielny’s presence was pivotal to it.

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Arsenal are now set for a  semi-final showdown with Valencia in the Europa League and the Gunners will bank heavily on their club-captain to deliver the goods once again.

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FPL Tips: Here are our best captain picks for GW35 – including this high-octane Arsenal superstar

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Premier League Opinion: Fantasy Premier League Captain Picks – GW35

This gameweek of Premier League football boasts a double gameweek for a few of the clubs who missed out on games over the course of the season.

While there a couple of very interesting ties, this week has the potential to effectively decide the title as Pep Guardiola’s men will face their biggest test of the season yet in the coming weeks.

Still in pole position if they’re able to win all their games, Manchester City have two difficult games lined up for the week.

They will be visited again by Tottenham in the space of a couple of days for the early kick-off on Saturday before travelling across the city to take on rivals Manchester United on Thursday night.

Arsenal are a club who’s fixtures look good on paper but securing 4th place certainly won’t be a facile job. This week, they are set to host Crystal Palace before travelling to the Molineux to face Wolves later in the week. Chelsea have just one fixture on the week and that’s on Monday night when they will be visited by Sean Dyche’s Burnley side.

United’s other fixture is against Everton on the weekend while Tottenham have to face Brighton in midweek. Liverpool’s fixture list will certainly fill the Reds fans with confidence as in the midst of all these potential season-changing matches, they travel to lowly Cardiff City who are on the verge of relegation.

Watford and Southampton both have two games on the week as well making them potential points scorers for the week as well. Considering that City have their most challenging week ahead of them, depending on City players as most people usually do could teen out to be a grave mistake.

Here are the 3 potential Captain picks for the Fantasy Premier League’s gameweek 35 set of fixtures:

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

The Gabonese forward has been the Gunners’ best player and there hasn’t been any sign of him slowing down as we head into the last few weeks of the competition.

Consider that Arsenal have two games to play this week as well, betting on Aubameyang to deliver the goods seems like a fairly decent bet.

Andre Gray

Probably one the least picked captains of the week, Andre Gray has an amazing opportunity in the coming week and if he does make full use of it, captaining his could have massive implications. Considering that Troy Deeney is out with a suspension, it’s essential for Gray to play and with game against Southampton and Huddersfield around the corner, this could the perfect time. 

Read More Premier League News, Click Here: Premier League News

Mohamed Salah

Liverpool are set to face off against Cardiff City this weekend and although the Bluebirds are mathematically still in with a chance of maintaining Premier League status. The likelihood of that happening quite low as the challenge set by the Liverpool front-line including Mo Salah could prove to be too much for the minnows to deal with.

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