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Over the course of the transfer window so far Nemanja Matic has regularly been linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge and is likely to be left out of Chelsea’s pre-season tour of Asia along with want away striker Diego Costa in order that both can sort out their future footballing careers.
For the last few weeks Matic has been linked with a number of clubs including big spenders such as Manchester United and Juventus and with the signing of Tiemoue Bakayoko a couple of days ago for £40m the writing would appear to be on the wall in terms of his Chelsea career.
One surprise contender for the signature of the Serbian international has emerged in recent days in the figure of Chelsea’s London rivals Arsenal who are looking to retake a Champions League spot next season and win the Premiership title for the first time since the 2004/05 season.
They already appear to mean business in the transfer market this season with Wenger seemingly more open to splashing big money on top quality signings with the £52 million addition of Alexandre Lacazette marking a signal of intent from the Gunners.
Recently, the Italian based newspaper Calcio Mercato claimed that Arsenal would be willing to offer Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (23), who is now into the final 12 months of his contract, as part of a swap deal for the 28-year-old Serb.
Although this transfer saga appears to have a long way to go still and the Emirates is far from a certain destination for Matic, it’s worthwhile considering how the tough tackling enforcer would fit into Arsene Wenger’s squad.
For many years after the departure of Patrick Vieira and other powerful players from the club it has been said of Arsenal that they lack bite and true leaders on the field. However, in the last season or two, this view has started to shift slightly with the acquisition of Granit Xhaka who although at times can be ill-disciplined, there is certainly no doubt of his commitment to a challenge.
Francis Coquelin is the same and Sead Kolasinac first two appearances in an Arsenal shirt would appear to indicate that Arsenal will no longer be physically weak or devoid of strength when they take to the field for the first time this season against Leicester.
With the return of club captain Per Mertesacker too they have a genuine leader in addition to the consistent Laurent Koscielny.
Regardless of this, Nemanja Matic would still definitely add something in terms of physicality in the middle of the park. Matic also comes with Premier League pedigree having played significant parts in both of Chelsea’s two most recent title victories.
In terms of how he would fit into Wenger’s side it is difficult to tell, he would almost certainly be part of the first XI on a regular basis but whether this would be as part of a 4-3-3 or the 3-4-3 that Arsenal adopted towards the end of last season and seem to be sticking with in pre-season would remain to be seen.
The 3-4-3 would definitely suit him as it was a formation he became accustomed to under Antonio Conte last season. Either way Matic would likely add steel to the Arsenal midfield predominantly acting as a defensive anchor for the more forward-thinking Gunners players such as Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey.
In terms of the 3-4-3 formation it is likely that Matic would partner up in the middle of the park with either Ramsey or Xhaka or even possibly Santi Cazorla when he returns from his lengthy injury lay off. This is all dependent on how defensively Wenger wants to set up his side week in week out.
There is even the possibility that Matic could take a place in an Arsenal back three on occasions and he certainly has the versatility and defensive attributes to pull it off.
However, it remains to be seen whether Chelsea would be willing to sell to a Premier League rival and only the upcoming weeks will prove where Matic will eventually end up. One thing is for certain though is that he would certainly suit Arsenal as he adds further steel to an increasingly physical and well led side.
Written by James Bairstow
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