Why Arsenal should reignite interest in Bryan Cristante
Back in February, a report from the Guardian claimed that Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta had sent his scouts to monitor AS Roma midfielder Bryan Cristante with a view to a potential transfer in the summer window.
However, a move to North London didn’t quite materialise for the 25-year-old Italy international, with the Gunners eventually turning their attention to other targets.
Bryan Cristante rose through the youth ranks of AC Milan but he made just 5 first-team appearances for his boyhood club before heading out of his homeland to join Portuguese giants Benfica in 2014. However, the midfielder’s adventure in Portugal yielded only a handful of appearances as Cristante spent time on loan at Palermo, Pescara and Atalanta in the Serie A.
The 25-year-old’s 12-goal haul in all competitions during the 2017-18 campaign prompted Atalanta to buy him outright in the summer of 2018 before immediately loaning him out to AS Roma with an obligatory purchase clause.
Cristante, who joined Roma permanently back in February 2019, has accumulated 5 goals and 6 assists in 79 appearances across all competitions for the Giallorossi. A full international for Italy since 2017, the central midfielder has amassed a total of 9 caps for his nation so far.
Cristante would be a quality addition to Arsenal’s midfield
Arsenal completed a mini overhaul of their midfield options in the summer window as Arteta looked to reshape the squad to his liking. Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira were loaned out to free up enough room and fund a move for Thomas Partey before the deadline.
The Gunners also managed to re-sign Dani Ceballos on a second successive loan deal from Real Madrid in what was another welcome boost to their midfield. However, Arsenal were left frustrated in their attempts to agree a deal with Lyon for reported top target Houssem Aouar.
Indeed, a potential deal for Aouar would certainly have been the final piece in Arteta’s midfield jigsaw. The Gunners need a new creative central midfielder to complement more defensive-minded players like Granit Xhaka and Partey in the middle of the park.
Ceballos’ future beyond the season remains unclear as he is only on loan, and Mesut Ozil has long been deemed surplus to requirements. Joe Willock has struggled to deliver on his potential so far. Hence, the door remains open for Arsenal to go back in the market for a new No.10 or a versatile No.8 to solve their issues when the transfer window reopens in January.
Bryan Cristante could be a handy alternative for Arsenal during the mid-season trading period. Essentially a central midfielder by trade, the 25-year-old has the versatility to switch between No.10 and the No.8 roles.
Cristante has scored 18 goals and 12 assists in 134 club career appearances in the Serie A, which is pretty decent considering that he has often been used in a withdrawn role. However, he’s more than capable of playing contributing to the attack.
The 25-year-old’s heat map from the 2019-20 season clearly shows that he likes to pull the strings from a slightly deeper position as compared to an orthodox No.10. Strong central concentration in both halves lies testament to Cristante’s high work rate and an ability to track back and contribute defensively.
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Suffice to say, Bryan Cristante seems to have the right set of qualities to tick all boxes as a perfect fit for Arteta’s system. The 25-year-old still has his best years ahead of him, so he could well be an excellent long-term investment for Arsenal in January.