Grading The Deal; The Grandeur of Granit Xhaka to Arsenal

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The silly season is fully underway, as club “think tanks” seek to delve into the transfer market and attempt to strengthen their teams going into the new season, while also ensuring that they get the best possible value for money deals in a very competitive and largely inflated global transfer market. We at GSV have taken it upon ourselves to give you a comprehensive breakdown of some transfer deals in our Grading The Deal supplement, an exclusive and comprehensive guide catered towards the purists who seek to know more than the average fan regarding the wheeling’s and dealings in football today. Enjoy!

#TheSuperMarket

Arsène Wenger is a man that developed a blueprint to winning titles in England, refined it and made an art form out of its intricacy, before discarding the model for one that was based on the Tiki-Taka era that blossomed before reaching its plateau and fading out in popularity and effectiveness. The largely unflattering season past seems to have reignited a fire in Le Professor’s belly, a fire that has seemed to coincide with what can only be the result of a nostalgic wine induced trip down memory lane with the Missus, one that lead to him digging in the attic and dusting off his “master plan for success”. The pre-Tiki-Taka Arsenal were a combative, yet technical football side, that could play as pretty as they could mix it up, and get stuck in if need be; that flexibility allowed Wenger to showcase his tactical dexterity, by making subtle changes in-game without having to totally move certain players out of position, or sacrifice the balance or functionality of the team, in an attempt to attain the desired outcome.

The current Arsenal squad is largely undersized when compared to the more bullish big EPL sides like Chelsea, Manchester City or Manchester United, who over the years have sampled that formula hatched by Wenger, to build combative yet attacking sides, that won games and titles with more regularity than the more aesthetically pleasing Arsenal led by Wenger. From Emmanuel Petit and Patrick Vieira to Gilberto Silva and Patrick Vieira, a thriving Arsenal side under Wenger has always been built around two physical, yet technical central midfield players, that form the heart of the team and offer balance on both sides of the ball. Le Prof seems to be returning to those deep roots, judging by his last two transfers. Mohamed Elneny came in as a much needed buy in January, and the industrious Egyptian has already won over many fans with his tenacious approach on the defensive end, while his propensity to take a pop from range has him marked as a future terrace favourite in the making. The arrival of Elneny has been followed up with yet another physical yet technically gifted former FC Basel 1893 midfield player, a lad who may just be the long awaited replacement for Patrick Vieira that many Gooners have prayed for, in more ways than one. Granit Xhaka could be the type of player Arsenal fans have been yearning for in their quest to reaffirm themselves as one of the elite clubs in English and World football, the squad knows that they can go a long way towards fulfilling their undoubted potential by winning a major piece of silverware or two for Wenger before he hangs up his faulty zipper having winter coat.

Granit Xhaka

Bio

Full Name: Granit Xhaka

DoB: September 27th, 1992 (23)

PoB: Basel; Switzerland

Nationalities: Albanian, Swiss

Caps & Goals: 47 Caps, 6 Goals & 5 Assists

Position/s: Ball-Winning Midfielder, Deep-Lying Playmaker, Attacking Midfielder, Advanced Playmaker, Trequartista, Inside Forward, Winger (L/R/C)

Height: 1, 85m

Preferred Foot: Left

Club: Arsenal FC

Jersey No: #29

Former Clubs: FC Basel 1893 (2010-2012), Borussia Mönchengladbach (2012-2016)

Development Nest/s: Concordia Basel (2000-2002), FC Basel Youth (2002-2010)

Transfer Fee: £30m + add-ons

Wage: £120k p/w

Contract Expiry: June 30th, 2019 + 1 Year Renewal Option

2015/16 Club Stats: 36 Games, 3 Goals, 2 Assists, 7 Yellow Cards, 2 Double Yellow/Red Cards & 1 Red Card

Total Career Stats: 207 Games, 12 Goals, 15 Assists, 45 Yellow Cards, 5 Double Yellow/Reds & 1 Red Card

GSV Deal Grader: Patrick Vieira to Arsenal from Inter Milan on August 14th, 1996 for £3.5m (5/5)

Signing Granit Xhaka is a sign of intent from Arsenal, the former Gladbach skipper brings leadership traits and a physical prowess that has been sorely missed at London Colney; Xhaka may take a few months to fully adapt to the style of play at Arsenal, yet he seems like a long-term replacement for the pivotal Santi Cazorla in the deep-lying playmaker role. Xhaka affords Wenger more flexibility in tactical outlook and personnel selection, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see the team change formations more often in the coming season, as Wenger looks to get the best out of an already talented midfield group, one that can be said to have underachieved given the plethora of talent battling for the 5 starting positions.

A combative, yet intelligent midfield general, with a good eye for the pass and an instinctive positional sense that allows him to keep the midfield ticking over on both sides of the ball, Granit Xhaka has all the tools required to develop into an elite level regista for Arsenal and Switzerland.

Strengths

Granit may have played in a more direct system at Gladbach, yet he has always been the player who starts most attacking moves, with a decisive pass or a defensive line shifting run. An average passing accuracy of 85%, with an average pass length of 20m, in the 2015/16 season, proves that Xhaka will not necessarily take too long adapting to the constant passing demanded in an Arsenal side; Granit is well adept at looking to play with his head up and look for the forward pass first, before going sideways or backwards to retain possession if the pass is not on, this trait makes him akin to Santi Cazorla in many ways, and that places him in good stead for the future in an Arsenal jersey. An 81% success rate in take-ons, 30 out of 37 attempted, is a testament to the brilliant combination of guile and strength that is Granit Xhaka; the midfield general is well versed in the art of breaking from deep in midfield, ala-Aaron Ramsey or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and forcing the opposition defenders to break out of shape to halt him, it’s on such runs that Granit makes his living, picking out teammates with pinpoint through-passes.

Weaknesses

A return of 3 goals in 28 games during the previous campaign is a poor showing for such a talented midfield player, Xhaka will have to up his goal tally and aim for double figures in all competitions if he seeks to be an upgrade to the players he seeks to play over regularly; Arsenal have largely failed to reach the lofty heights of the great Wenger sides before them, due to a drought of goals from midfield, where they used to get a steady supply in the past from players like Marc Overmars, Robert Pirès, Fredrik Ljunberg, Patrick Vieira, Sylvain Wiltord & Ray Parlour. It’s worth noting how Xhaka had a 48% shot accuracy for Gladbach in the 2015/16 season; as a technically gifted player with a powerful shot on him, the Basel born star can expect to get tons of encouragement from the terraces to have a pop from range when there is an opening for him to shoot on sight, something that seems to be currently largely unencouraged from within the team.

For a deep-lying playmaker ,with good positional sense and a frame that allows him to compete with the best of them, Granit Xhaka still seems a tad bit naïve in some defensive situations, and that will be something which has to be worked on, if Arsenal aren’t going to stop turning-over the ball in midfield as often as they do; a 41% success-rate in tackles, 49 out of 121 attempted, is also not flattering for a player that carries so much defensive responsibility in the double-pivot. Xhaka has also seemingly unfairly developed the tag of being a hot-headed player, due to his determination to succeed, coupled with his inability to time tackles as well as he should, much like a modern age Paul Scholes. The lad is maturing with each season, and his defensive game can only improve when playing in a side that forces defenders to earn their keep more often than not, due to their more expansive style of play and obvious defensive fragilities.

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Wunderkind Watching; The Kinglike Kelechi Nwakali

KelechiNwakali(GoldenBall)
The Golden Boy | Kelechi Nwakali
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A Playmaking Genius | Kelechi Nwakali

Wunderkind Watching; The Kinglike Kelechi Nwakali

#TheTalentScout

Wunderkind

: a child prodigy; also :  one who succeeds in a competitive or highly difficult field or profession at an early age

: someone who achieves success or shows great talent at a young age

The transition from playground hero to global superstar is one that only a lucky few get to undergo & complete; child prodigies can be found in every crevice of the globe, yet one does not always get to witness a child prodigy excel at a competitive level and show signs of great promise at a tender age, as gaffers are often under pressure to get immediate results and predictably punt for more seasoned pro’s as they seek to attain some much needed job security. Football remains one of the greatest tests of talent in the modern age, a field where hard work beats talent, when talent refuses to work hard and having talent alone is not enough to truly flourish in the craft. With measured development and sound off-field guidance, a wunderkind can develop into a world-class footballer with the gifts and aptitude to excel at the highest level; wunderkinder do not always become the true stars that their potential levels would have suggested they’d develop into, yet that will not hinder us from watching the best u/20 lads in the game and giving you an informative, enlightening and educational scouting report as our Talent Scout packs his binoculars and goes Wunderkind Watching.

Kelechi Nwakali

Bio

DoB: June 5th, 1998 (18)

PoB: Owerri, Imo State; Nigeria

Nationality: Nigerian

Caps & Goals: N/A {u/17 International}

Position/s: Deep-Lying Playmaker, Box-To-Box Midfielder, Attacking Midfielder, Advanced Playmaker

Height: 1, 81m

Preferred Foot: Right

Club: Arsenal F.C (Transferring July 1st, 2016)

Club Jersey No: Not Yet Assigned

Development Nest: ASJ (Academy of Saint-Joseph) in Owerri

Honours: 2015 u17 FIFA World Cup Winner & 2015 u17 FIFA World Cup adidas Golden Ball Winner

Talent Scout Report

Mental: The advancements in modern football have necessitated an increased level of anticipation in players that play in more central areas, the high pressing nature of football today requires players think more proactively on & off the ball if they are to keep up with the pace. Kelechi s gifted with good positional play and that bodes well for him in modern football when coupled with is ability to react quickly to situations on and off the ball; a midfielder is often judged by their effect on the team, Nwakali best exemplifies his worth by always looking to be in the best possible position to affect the game positively for his team.

One of the early indicators of his high potential threshold is Kelechi’s impressively high level of composure on the field for such a young lad, the skipper of the Golden Eaglets side that beat Mali 3-0 to be crowned 2015 u17 FIFA World Cup Champions, Nwakali has exhibited great levels of maturity which has allowed all his other natural gifts to come to the fore far more naturally. A driven young man with big dreams and the will to go out and accomplish them, Kelechi came back from missing out on the 2013 u/17 FIFA World Cup winning squad, after being considered too young for that level, to skipper his class to the gold in a show of sheer willpower and desire to achieve greatness. His influence on his teammates is infusive and much of that is a product of the driven nature of the young lad, who seems to naturally inspire those around him to be the best version of themselves, while playing some pretty enterprising football while they are at it.

An extremely creative midfielder who seems to revel in his role of being the conductor of the orchestra, Kelechi can often change the complexion of the game with an inspired moment of brilliance and his match winning capabilities make him a key asset in modern football where games can turn in one through-pass on the transition after having absorbed pressure from the opposition in a tight game.

Despite being blessed with great positioning on and off the ball, the youngster will need to become more aware of the spaces he can exploit if he is to become a world-class player in the future, his game will only develop with time and more natural growth will occur as he plays more competitive football at a higher level; Kelechi will learn how to impose himself on games far more often by taking advantage of the spaces he can create. As with many gifted young footballers, Kelechi can sometimes seek to do too much too soon in an attacking move due to his propensity to make something positive happen for his team; maturity at the elite level will bring about improved decision-making on the field and that will make Nwakali even more of a threat on the field.

Physical: One of the key traits of importance in midfield today is a players ability to remain balanced on the field, a more balanced player can better ride challenges or adjust to make them in the timely manner demanded by the pace of the game today; Kelechi is well balanced for a lankier lad and his agility allows him to manoeuvre himself into key positions or work his way out of a tight situation and still find a way to benefit his team. Playing in the engine room is demanding for any footballer, the pressure is only increased on young players who have to adjust to the physicality & pace of the game at the elite level; Nwakali comes fitted with a great pair of lungs that allow him to play effectively on both sides of the ball without losing too much effectiveness as the game wares on.

Physicality and durability is great to possess in ones arsenal if one seeks to succeed at the elite level, but the sheer pace of football today requires a player to have some degree of  mobility to play in the engine room. Kelechi will need to work on improving his mobility and increasing the speed at which he can manoeuvre himself about the pitch to better influence proceedings.

Technical: One of the greatest facets of Kelechi’s game lies in his technical proficiency with the ball at his feet, a well versed dribbler that can beat his marker and create space for himself and his team, Nwakali combines his impressive dribbling mastery with a neat 1st touch that often sees him leaving his man for dead just as he brings the ball under his spell and afford himself that extra bit of time on the ball to execute what he sees.

A natural born conductor of play with the skills to orchestrate a sweet symphony, Kelechi Nwakali has the passing vision & range to link up play extremely well and ensure that he finds a way to make the team create chances on the offensive end; capable of playing short intricate passes or mixing it up with more direct diagonal passes, Kelechi has the ball distribution and retention abilities to succeed at the elite level and develop into a star for Arsenal in years to come. Kelechi also exhibits great technical mastery from set-pieces and that skill is one that puts him in good stead for the future as he adds another goal dimension with his penalty-kicks, corners and free-kicks.

The long-term view is that Kelechi will develop more into a deep-lying playmaker that conducts the attacks from deep while still providing a defensive foil for the more advanced players; if the lad is to succeed in that role, his tackling will need to be worked on as he could put his defenders in some danger by missing key tackles in dangerous positions.

For such a technically gifted young lad, Kelechi still struggles to get himself more goals from open play due to a lack of refinement when it comes to shooting from range and making the most of the good positions he finds himself in. The gifted youngster could also use some work on the training ground with regards to his finishing ability, something many Arsenal midfielders seem to need assistance with; an improvement can only come with dedicated work in training on getting into the best possible positions to get more goals. Overall, Kelechi Nwakali is a well-rounded midfielder with great potential and the opportunity to develop his game further at one of the best places to develop as a young player; the future looks bright for Nigeria with the plethora of gifted youngsters on the rise, Nwakali stands in good stead to become a pivotal cog in the Nigeria side that would be targeting glory at the historic 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

GSV Potential Meter: 4/5 Tsamaya’s

GSV Wunderkind Watching; A Jewel, Jeff Reine-Adelaide

Jeff Reine-Adelaide(RC Lens)
A Product Of Sang et Or | Jeff Reine-Adelaide
UEFA European Under-17 Championship - France Portraits
A Future Les Bleus Star | Jeff Reine-Adelaide

Wunderkind

: a child prodigy; also :  one who succeeds in a competitive or highly difficult field or profession at an early age

: someone who achieves success or shows great talent at a young age

The transition from playground hero to global superstar is one that only a lucky few get to undergo & complete; child prodigies can be found in every crevice of the globe, yet one does not always get to witness a child prodigy excel at a competitive level and show signs of great promise at a tender age, as gaffers are often under pressure to get immediate results and predictably punt for more seasoned pro’s as they seek to attain some much needed job security. Football remains one of the greatest tests of talent in the modern age, a field where hard work beats talent, when talent refuses to work hard and having talent alone is not enough to truly flourish in the craft. With measured development and sound off-field guidance, a wunderkind can develop into a world-class footballer with the gifts and aptitude to excel at the highest level; wunderkinder do not always become the true stars that their potential levels would have suggested they’d develop into, yet that will not hinder us from watching the best u/20 lads in the game and giving you an informative, enlightening and educational scouting report as our Talent Scout packs his binoculars and goes Wunderkind Watching.

#TheTalentScout

Jeff Reine-Adelaide

Bio

DoB: January 17th, 1998 (17)

PoB: Champigny-sur-Marne, Paris; France

Nationality: French

Caps & Goals: N/A (French u/16 & u/17 International)

Position/s: Winger, Advanced Playmaker, Attacking Midfielder, Trequartista (Left, Right, Centre)

Preferred Foot: Right

Club: Arsenal FC

Club Jersey No: #54

Club Appearances & Goals: N/A (In the Arsenal u/21 side)

Development Academy: RC Lens u/19 (France)

Talent Scout Report

Mental: Modern football demands that wide players possess the ability to create quality goalscoring opportunities, as most teams tend to play with one forward upfront and pack the midfield or overload the defensive end; Jeff seems tailor-made to excel on the flanks with his artistic like levels of creativity and the flair to do the unthinkable with the ball at his feet, such class is highlighted when combined with his exemplary knowledge of when to dribble and how to exploit the space created or afforded. The all-round hallmark of Reine-Adelaide’s mental game is the fact that he makes good decisions for a lad his age; creative players have often been unfortunately branded as “luxury players” due to a perceived lack of overall team ethic, Jeff seems to defy that tag with his great determination and drive on the field.

The one evident flaw in Jeff’s overall mental game is one that is common in many young players today; a poor sense of positional play without possession and distinctive or definitive movement off-the-ball can often result in a good attacking player becoming easier to contain for a defensive unit, while such traits are essential for an attacking player in the modern game, they are also very coachable and possible to master.

Physical: If we have learned anything from the advancement of gegenpressing and the evolution of tiki-taka, it’s that pace hurts opponents in ways they cannot contain; Jeff easily stands out as a star for the future in this category, blessed with great athleticism and bags of pace to boot, one cannot help but feel as if the lad could develop into the type of player defenders loathe to face and managers love to have. As we have often noted in other speedy footballers before, pace and acceleration can be wasted on a player without balance or agility to make full use of that athletic advantage; Reine-Adelaide adds immeasurable value with his ability to run hard while still adding a distinct quality on the field, such athleticism will put the lad in good stead for a future in the fast paced English Premier League.

Excelling in such a physical league will require more work in the gym for Jeff, he has a great build for a wide player and the addition of more meat on to his bones will make him truly uncontainable for fullbacks far and wide; again, this is something he can work on and add to his overall game over time, with effort invested.

Technical: One thing you can guarantee from a player co-signed by Arsène Wenger, is an evident degree of technical dexterity and quality; Jeff is a gifted dribbler of the ball, his outstanding fist touch and technical control of the football combine to make for an artist with paintbrushes for feet. We have seen many a gifted ball-player fail to make the grade at the elite level due to a lack of end-product, Jeff seems to defy the odds yet again with his accurate delivery from wide positions and a keen eye for shooting chances when penetrating into the attacking third.

If one were to look for a flaw in Reine-Adelaide’s technical make-up, it could be found in his passing game, the lad will surely be taught how to get more involved in the intricate build-up play preferred at Arsenal and that addition to his arsenal would be invaluable as he seeks to develop into a star footballer for club and country in the future.

GSV Potential Meter: 4/5 Tsamaya’s