Arsenals don’t seem to be enjoying their luck when it comes to their defence. After last season, Per Mertesacker was seen as the weak link which led Arsene Wenger to spend just over £30million on centre-back Shkodran Mustafi. Forming a solid partnership along with Laurent Koscielny as well as being a fantastic signing for Arsenal, the 24-year-old is yet to taste defeat in the Premier League.
In recent months, Nacho Monreal has been seen as the latest weak link in defence that may leave a massive problem for Wenger if he doesn’t act quickly during the January transfer window. Back-up option, Kieran Gibbs, is a good player to fill in for the Spaniard but he faces his own issues as injuries from time to time have tampered with his development.
During the late stages of December, the Gunners have been linked with Spanish left-back Jose Gaya, who is a regular starter for La Liga side Valencia. Gaya would be the perfect signing for Arsenal and Wenger in the long run – here’s why they should splash the cash on him this month and not wait till the summer before it’s too late.
Following his memorable debut season, the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona immediately revealed their interest in the 21-year-old. Having the ability to offer a lot on both sides of the pitch, Gaya is destined to be one of the best left-backs in Europe before the 2018 World Cup. By then, he will more or less be replacing Barcelona’s Jordi Alba in the Spain XI.
Despite interest from a few of the best sides in the world, Gaya went on to sign a five-year extension with Valencia, keeping him at the club until 2020 with a £42.5million buyout clause. Luckily for teams that are interested in Gaya like Arsenal, they will only have to pay over half that amount due to the problems Valencia are facing on and off the pitch.
With manager Cesare Prandelli departing from Valencia after being in charge for ten games, leaving the team above relegation zone on goal difference, key players like Gaya and Joao Cancelo will aim to force a move away from the Mestalla Stadium. Considering the financial issues the club are going through, it might leave them with no choice but to accept offers that arrive during the transfer window.
Completing 12 La Liga appearances for Valencia so far this season, Gaya has produced 30 tackles, 16 interceptions and 13 successful dribbles, which is not bad for someone who is playing in a team that has been all over the place.
Comparing it to Arsenal’s main left-back this campaign, Monreal, Gaya is not far behind. When comparing tackles won, Gaya has won 30 in total whilst Monreal has won 42. Looking at the attacking side of the game, Monreal achieves just 0.5 successful dribbles per game, meanwhile Gaya manages to complete 1.1 successful dribbles per game.
Some at this stage will be thinking there is no point of buying Gaya if Monreal’s stats are better, however the latter has completed seven more league appearances than the former. Not to forget that Monreal is declining and Gaya’s best years are ahead of him. Having Gaya and Hector Bellerin as the main left-back and right-back for the next five years or so would be a dream for Wenger, whose system depends on agile and aggressive full-backs.
Gaya is mainly known for his pace and composure on the ball, which is something that Arsenal have been lacking for some time. Monreal has been caught out of position on several occasions and has lost his pace to rescue himself in a defensive sense. When used as a winger, Alexis Sanchez does give
the Spaniard a bit of protection when needed, but each player has to fulfil their own job and not rely on the help of their team-mates at all times.
At the age of 21, Jose Gaya would be seen as a fantastic piece of business for Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal, with the club having the left-back position sorted out for the next five to seven years. If the deal was to be completed, then Arsenal would arguably have the best full-backs in the country and possibly in Europe.
It’s true that the Spaniard will not come cheap for Arsenal, who aren’t the type to splash the cash but they will have to do so if they aim to win the Premier League this season. Gaya is yet to make his senior debut for his country, however his chances of making that happen will massively increase if he was to join the red side of London. With Monreal currently in his 30’s and Gibbs finding it hard to get a run of games without getting injured, buying Gaya is a no brainer, and it is why Arsenal should go all out to sign him.
All stats via WhoScored.