Why Arsenal must go all out to land Ever Banega from Sevilla
After two losses in the first two games of the season, things didn’t look particularly great for Arsenal and their supporters. But since then, Unai Emery’s men have recovered. The Gunners are unbeaten in their last four Premier League games and have made a solid start to their Europa League campaign with a 4-2 home win against Vorskla Poltava. Despite these wins, however, Arsenal haven’t looked their best and one of the main reasons behind that is their woeful performances in the centre of the park.
Over the years, the lack of steel in the middle of the park has haunted Arsenal. The days of Patrick Vieira and Gilberto Silva are long gone but if Emery wants to take the club back to the heights of that 2004 team, he must add character and quality in his midfield.
He sorted that to an extent by signing Lucas Torreira but given the state of Arsenal’s woes, merely one senior midfielder was never going to be enough. Matteo Guendouzi, 19, has also impressed but one can’t expect him to shine in every match and start every game.
Granit Xhaka might have scored against Newcastle United but he is still the weakest link in this Arsenal side. In fact, he has been at fault for giving away the ball in dangerous positions many times this season.
Regardless, all this could change fast. According to a report in The Sun, Arsenal have made Ever Banega their No.1 target for the January transfer window.
Banega, who returned to Sevilla last season after playing at Inter Milan for a year, is not a new name in European football. Truth be told, he has been plying his trade in Spain for the most part of the last decade. Interestingly, he was the linchpin of Emery’s Sevilla team which went on to win three Europa League titles on the trot.
Banega is a leader and Arsenal desperately need someone like him. He has won trophies in the past and has the nerves to play in the biggest matches. Despite being 30, he played 42 games for Sevilla in all competitions last season.
He is not only a destroyer who is tasked with winning the ball back. Instead, his vision and his passing range allow him to be a solid deep-lying playmaker who makes Sevilla tick. Last season across all competitions, he completed more than 2700 passes with a passing accuracy of 87%. Also, he successfully made 64 tackles, completed 119 dribbles, made 17 interceptions and racked up 19 clearances.
The report also claims that there is a £18million buy-out clause in Banega’s contract which is set to expire next summer. Arsenal might get him for a cheaper price in January as he will become a free agent in June 2019.
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Reuniting with Banega could truly work wonders for Emery and the club. Also, it will provide some much-needed depth in the squad for the second half of the campaign, particularly when the knock-out rounds of the Europa League and the FA Cup kick in.
Unlike his predecessor Ivan Gazidis, Raul Sanllehi, the new head of football for Arsenal, could become a fan favourite if he delivers Ever Banega to the doorstep of the Emirates.