Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger the broke news, and the hearts of Arsenal fans, on Monday by confirming defensive midfielder Francis Coquelin will be sidelined “at least two months” with a knee injury suffered during Arsenal’s disappointing 2-1 defeat to West Brom on Saturday. Coquelin is one of the most important players in the entire Arsenal squad and has arguably been the top performer among Premier League defensive midfielders in the calendar year.
As the Gunners head toward the grueling holiday period of fixtures (nine matches over the next six weeks), Wenger will have to make do with his current injury-riddled side until the next transfer market opens on Jan. 1. Mathieu Flamini will most likely serve as fill-in for Coquelin for the time being; however, there are three players Wenger should, and probably will, look at bringing in to help ease the loss of his fellow Frenchman.
The 23-year-old Portuguese international has been linked with a switch to Arsenal for some time, and he even recently proclaimed his affection for the Gunners.
“I prefer not to say too much, but there is a club with which I’ve always been fond of: Arsenal,” stated Carvalho last month. “Because of Thierry Henry, a player with whom I have always enjoyed watching. Maybe this is why I look with so much affection to the Premier League.”
Carvalho would be a fantastic addition, perhaps even ideal, but there is that pesky reported buy-out clause of about £30 million. Nevertheless, it is also believed that talks between the player and Sporting Lisbon about a possible contract extension have recently stalled. Arsenal brass have shown in recent years that they will spend money if they deem a player is worth it (Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez), so a big bid is not necessarily out of the question.
Kramer boasts an impressive 86% pass completion during league play for German outfit Bayer Leverkusen. The 24-year-old World Cup-winner would most likely be the cheapest option of these three highlighted players; however, he would be a very nice addition to the Arsenal team.
The German is composed on the ball and would provide this Gunners squad with solid distribution going forward. Perhaps a bit underrated, despite being a Germany international, Kramer is well-rounded, and his international ties with Ozil and Per Mertesacker could help convince the player to join the north London club.
Although the Switzerland international may not be a household name just yet, Xhaka is certainly a top player. The 23-year-old rising star has racked up 35 interceptions in Bundesliga play for his club, Borussia Mönchengladbach, and also averages 87.5 passes per match (second most in the German league). Along with his obvious abilities as a defensive midfielder, Xhaka can score the occasional goal as well, as evident by his three league goals this season.
The Gladbach captain is a tenacious defensive-minded midfielder, but perhaps a bit too tenacious. Xhaka has already collected two red cards (and four yellows) during the current campaign, and his attitude has been called into question. Arsenal have certainly benefited from Coquelin’s grit and moxie in the middle of the pitch, but it remains to be seen if Wenger would be willing to move for the talented, yet temperamental Xhaka.
One potential road block of a possible transfer, however, is that Xhaka recently stated his contentment with remaining in Germany for the time being.
“I am under contract until 2019 here and I am really enjoying life at the club,” said the 23-year-old. “This is all that matters to me, for the rest I have got my advisor and my father!
Assuming Wenger opts to sign a player in January, any one of the aforementioned trio would be a significant upgrade over both Flamini and Mikel Arteta looking ahead. The Gunners are going to need a reinforcement at the defensive midfield position if they are to challenge for the Premier League title this season.