I have a theory which I have touched on before because it affected Samir Nasri. The theory is that Wenger has never truly liked a dribbler in this central Midfield, (and I don’t mean cry-baby.) My view is that when Wenger refused to select Nasri at the head of the midfield trio for the Carling Cup Final little Samir knew he would always play wide if he stayed.
Even when he bought in tricky dribbling players, willing to run at the opposition, who had played central midfield before arriving he has converted them to wide men. Ljunberg is a perfect example and when Rosicky and Hleb arrived as central midfielders Wenger played them either side of Fabregas and Gilberto or Flamini. If you look back through the Wenger era Vieira, Petit, Gilberto, Edu etc these guys were all graceful movers and great passers but none was a ball carrier in the way we would consider, topically, a Hazard or a Gotze.
So why am I throwing this observation out there? Well even Fabregas was not this type of player, although he had it in him of course. So even with a midfield 3 rather than a 2, why should we now think that Wenger will spend his new wealth on a Gotze or a Hazard to fill the creative central attacking midfield role? If the Daily Mail is to be believed, Wenger will have a £100 million for a re build and to persuade his stars to share the vision and the press are convinced Gotze will be the main target. Two points here: Obviously the money will be dependent largely on offloading deadwood and secondly if Wenger did buy Gotze he would end up out wide where he likes his dribblers. This is also why despite some observers suggesting Oxlade-Chamberlain could fill the Cesc position I feel he will be left out wide.
This is not negative but I believe it to be realistic and whether Wenger retains the current formation or reverts to the more traditional 4411 it is an incisive passer we have been missing. The runs from our 3 attackers are often intelligent, in fact always in the case of van Persie, but we have lacked the vision and craft of a Fabregas or a Bergkamp to make the intuitive final killer ball to set up the goal scoring chance.
However there is such a payer who has all the pedigree and could be available for a more Wenger like fee and he also comes from and grew up the Dortmund school of football, like Goetze. In 2010/11 the German Player of the year and Dortmund’s main star as they dazzled their way the title was not Mario Goetze but Nuri Sahin. Sahin’s blistering form last season convinced Mourinho to spend a ludicrously low 10 million Euros to take him to Madrid. At the time both Aston Villa and Manchester United were heavily linked with the German born Turrkish star. Sadly for Sahin his first season at the Bernabeu has been curtailed by a serious injury suffered August, As Madrid have conquered all before them in the league, barring Barca, a fit again in December, Sahin has found it difficult to get game time which has lead to rumours that he will be available in the summer. Since this news had come out Roma and Manchester United have been said to be interested. There is only so long Fergie can call on Scholes for creativity. I would love to see this Wenger style playmaker at the Emirates in 2012/13 rather than at Old Trafford.
So what convinced Real Madrid to offer this 23 year old Turkish International a massive 6 year deal last summer and does he have the pedigree that Arsenal need?
Sahin has blazed a trail from the age of 16. At 16 and 334 days in August 2005 he was the youngest to have played in the Bundesliga. The fairy story continued 2 months later when he was given his debut by Turkey, who he has chosen by parentage, and scored the winner against Germany the country of his birth. Yes at just 17 he was the youngest ever to have ever scored for the Turks. However the glory had begun for Sahin that summer when as one of the youngest players he had steered the Turkish U17 side to the European Championship. He has been pivotal in virtually every game and scored against the Dutch in the final, on his way to winning the prestigious UEFA.com Golden Player award for the tournament. To give this some context for you previous and subsequent winners of this awards are Rooney 2002, Fabregas 2004, Tony Kroos, 2006 and Bojan Krkic 2007. (For those that don’t know the Dutch U17s won the trophy in 2011 and the Golden Player was Arsenal’s own Kyle Ebecilio so watch this space.)
Any interesting quote from an interview given to UEFA after winning his award:
“It is a very important tournament for me as I can show my ability to scouts and to coaches,” Nuri said. “My ambition is to play in the first team for Borussia Dortmund, then my great dream is to play in England. It is not important which club, but I would love to play in England with the great stadiums there.”
In his first season as a first team squad member 2005/6 after his record breaking this graceful passing midfielder notched 6 assist in just 23 starts aged 16/17. I am not sure there is any 17 anywhere with stats to match that is such a competitive league at that age. Wilshere at a year older managed 3 assist in over 30 odd games last year.
After one more year in and out of the Dortmund first team Sahin was loaned to Feyernoord for 2007/8 on the understanding that he would play week in week out which he did. In 29 Eredivisie appearances, still only in his 19th year, he hit 6 goals and made a further 5. In a poor season for Feyenoord, Sahin stood out and was actually involved in 17% of the 64 league goals they managed and assist them win the Dutch Cup, their first trophy in years. He flourished under Bert van Marwijk, the coach at Feyenoord who had been the coach at Dortmund who risked him as a 16 year old.
In 209/10 Sahin missed only one league game, and ran the team, orchestrating the midfield. The previous season whist he has been in Holland, Dortmund has failed to qualify for even the Europa League. With Nuri back he dragged his team virtually single handedly back into Europe either scoring or assisting (4 and 7) in 20% of the teams 54 goals, finishing 5th.
2010/11 was the pinnacle for Sahin as he and Dortmund marched to the Bundesliga title winning it by 7 clear points. Now joined in the midfield by Goetze between them the two made of scored 29 of Dortmund’s 64 league goals. Sahin himself chipped in with 6 goals and 8 assists and was voted ‘Bundesliga Player of the Year.’
Sahin has stagnated now due to being injured whist his team in Spain have dominated La Liga and the form of other makes his options look bleak. However this is the same player who dominated the German top flight less than a year ago and he is exactly the player Arsenal have been lacking. I think the ESPN website puts it better than I would:
Strengths: An incisive passer, Sahin’s ability to play a killer ball marks him out from his peers. His vision is excellent and can dictate the tempo of the game. Also an excellent dead ball specialist.
That sums it up for me. There is a Wenger style attacking midfielder who 8 months ago was the best player in Germany, not getting any football in Madrid. A player, who fits our style, having grown up in the Dortmund academy from the age of 12 to 16. He has the very assets we have sorely missed since Fabregas left and he could be available for the sort of cash that would leave Wenger plenty of room to manoeuvre elsewhere in the summer.
In fact I am stunned that we have not been linked with him when we have been linked with other out of favour midfielders at the Bernebeu. Lazy journalism links us with Granero and Kaka when Nuri Sahan is Wenger style player who we desperately need to replace Cesc.
For those who wish to check out Sahin in action the link has 8 minutes of his best:
Until next time and thanks for reading.