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Finding Ramsey a new partner in the transfer market

Arsenal need a new holding midfielder. It's not exactly a new problem, yet injuries to Coquelin and Cazorla have raised emergency levels from 'We're fine' to 'Oh God Flamini is playing'. The bigger issue regarding the midfielder is the who, the when and the fee. After all, the big man failed to, either identify, or bring in said player for a couple of windows now. Why is that? Here are a couple of points why the hunt for *that* midfielder might be tougher than it would seem.

1 - Profile in flux

There is an argument to be made that the profile and strengths of the DM in question have changed regularly over the last couple of seasons. When Arteta was still working well as Ramsey's partner, yet some of his physical flaws were being exposed, the call was for a younger and more dynamic version of him. And possibly, even Wenger - at that time - felt that this was the midfielder he needed. I believe since then, things might have changed. Primarily because of one man's arrival (erection) - le Coq.

When you watch Coquelin for a couple of games, you realise what he does ever so well, but also where he struggles. He is dynamic, covers lots of ground and is aggressive at the right time and in the right spaces. It's a reminder that those traits where also shared by other great Arsenal DMs under Wenger. It's become particularly apparent when Arteta or Flamini play in his place. Suddenly huge spaces open up between midfielders themselves and between midfield and back four. Now, this is not necessarily the fault of Arteta nor Flamini (who admittedly could be more disciplined in his positioning), as they can't change their age and physical attributes, but rather down to Wenger's system. However, changing the system to accommodate those two players would lead to more problems; the #8 midfielder would have to change his approach, positioning of full backs etc. Essentially, it's a trade-off Wenger accepts. Yet, with Coquelin, he doesn't have to accept it.

So it would seem only logical that Wenger might have turned his attention to someone, who offers what Coquelin does, while also offers more in terms of building play strategically from the back. This however, narrows down the list even further. As players who do both parts extremely well, are both rare and expensive.

2 - Wenger doesn't spend big money on DMs

Which leads us to point 2. Historically speaking, the defensive midfield slot has not acted as a black hole for a money at Arsenal. The big players under Wenger were either recruited for peanuts as the boss exploited the French player market (Vieira, Petit), they were punts on young players that turned out alright (Flamini, Song and Coquelin) or other relatively cheap players that Wenger transformed  into household names (Gilberto). The most expensive one was probably Arteta, but even there you could argue that he wasn't necessarily bought as DM. It's just a position that Wenger rarely deliberately buys for - and when he does it isn't for big money.  Yet most of the DMs Arsenal have been linked with recently would cost significantly more than most of his DM purchases combined. While you could argue that Arsenal have more than enough cash to buy a Krychowiak, a Carvalho or even a Neves (or even all 3), it is a purchase you just want to get absolutely right. Especially with the first point in mind. You don't want to spend 40m on a player, only to realise you want a different type 6 months after.

3 - The lack of partnerships

This point mirrors key aspects raised in 1) and 2) and adds another element. Arsenal, for all the talented midfielders they have, can only rely on a few top class partnerships. There was Ramsey and (peak) Arteta, there's Coquelin and Cazorla (when both are at their best) and yeah, that's pretty much it. Ramsey and Cazorla is only an option for a few select games, Ramsey + Flamini leaves the defence exposed and when playing with Coquelin, Ramsey would have to adjust his game quite dramatically. Let's not entertain partnerships involving Wilshere for now.

As mentioned, very few top class partnerships. Meaning if I were to spend 40m on one player, I probably would like said player to work extremely well with a range of players. Otherwise, I'd end up with one world-class partnership that - knowing Arsenal's injury record - would last for about 6 games.

Hopefully, you can now see how all of it ties together. We might have a different prototype of a DM in mind, due to the way the game evolves and because we were reminded that certain core skills are still pretty important in the modern game. Furthermore, we historically, struggled to identify and purchase strong DMs and rather hoped for young players to improve or we simply moved players from other positions into that slot. And when we did buy, it was rarely expensive, proven talent, but rather relied on top notch scouting, luck or Wenger's 'insider trading'. And finally, the problem of finding true partnerships among our most talented midfielders.

Now - don't get me wrong - the club should still be able to find and buy the right players. After all, we have a top class manager and employ numerous scouts and other knowledgeable people. But I think we as fans are often guilty of depicting a process like that as significantly easier than it actually is. As in reality, there's only a handful of players to choose from and a significant amount of money is at stake as well. 

 Tell us what you think! If you agree, or have a different view, please leave a comment in the comments section or why not write a response or your own article on YouWrite?

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Tags: Defensive Midfielder, Flamini, Carvalho, Coquelin, Krychowiak, Neves, Transfer Market

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