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João Moutinho is supposedly surplus for AS Monaco right now with Monaco ready to cash in on the former Sporting Lisbon midfielder “as they are looking to balance the books”. The Portuguese international has been ruled out with injury, but is considering a transfer request if his club fails to make it to the Champions League group stages.
There have been plenty of links in the past month or so suggesting Moutinho could be on his way to Arsenal. Now that there is suggestion Monaco want to free up funds, the possibility of the 28-year-old departing is very high.
The Gunners should absolutely persist with this deal if they are indeed in for the player.
Coquelin impressive, but needs assistance
In the second half of last season, Francis Coquelin played rather impressively. His matured and solid performances meant that Wenger was vindicated in his decision of not buying a defensive midfielder in the January window.
However, it is rather worrisome that the Frenchman has not addressed this clear void even now. There is no doubt that Coquelin can be a big player for the Gunners, but he is indubitably not enough for the team as they look for silverware in the four competitions they’re competing in.
Against Crystal Palace, Francis Coquelin struggled. He didn’t do anything worthy of note and was actually lucky to be on the field. Any top team needs a top class player for every spot along with a quality back-up in that position.
Right now, Coquelin is the quality back-up, but not quite the top class player Arsenal need. He struggled against the pace and directness of Dimitri Payet in the opening game, and Alan Pardew had visibly targeted him in the next one.
He needs help in the heart of the pitch from someone who can lend him a hand in shielding the defence and but can also dictate proceedings from the centre. Santi Cazorla is not equipped for this job due as he cannot contribute defensively. Jack Wilshere would be a decent option but the Englishman is injured so often, he cannot be relied upon.
Moutinho to step in?
This is where the injured (pardon the irony) Joao Moutinho steps in. The Portuguese made 37 appearances for Monaco last season and made 2.2 successful tackles out of an attempted 3.7 in every 90 minutes last season. He also contributed with 1.9 interceptions every 90 minutes. This might not be extremely impressive if one looks at him as a pure defensive midfielder, but it would be misguided to do so.
While he was employed as a defensive midfielder in some games, the Portuguese played centrally and also in an advanced position. He made two key passes every 90 minutes. He also scored four goals and got six assists for the French side last season.
After Manchester United landed Schneiderlin – the only player the Gunners were vehemently linked with – Arsenal have been linked with moves for Grzegorz Krychowiak, Mehmet Topal, Axel Witsel, Yohan Cabaye, William Carvalho among others, but these rumours have been short-lived perhaps indicating Arsenal’s lack of seriousness in persisting any of these deals.
A perfect fit?
The Monaco man can be a perfect fit for the London side. All through his career he has played a variety of roles depending upon the need of the side, from a screen for his defence to a playmaker.
Along with Coquelin, he could play the role of the deep lying playmaker; but without him, he could be partnered with one of Ramsey and Cazorla when Wenger needs more attackers to get results against big opponents.
With Moutinho and Monaco ostensibly coming towards the end of a journey, Arsenal should exploit this opportunity and swoop in with a move for the player.
Written by Aakriti Mehrotra
Follow Aakriti on Twitter @Aakriti1
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