Rice Repeat: Arsenal “Considering” Major Move for Premier League Star Who’s a Big Upgrade on Xhaka

Despite a promising 2023/24 season for Arsenal, the likelihood of them ending trophyless under Mikel Arteta remains high. The Gunners’ last major trophy came in 2019/20 with the FA Cup, excluding their two Community Shield victories in 2020/21 and this season.

Arsenal’s Champions League journey ended with a defeat to Bayern Munich last week, and though they currently lead the Premier League with 77 points, Manchester City could overtake them if they win their two remaining games.

A significant issue for Arteta this season has been the midfield. Since Granit Xhaka’s departure to Bayer Leverkusen last summer, Arsenal have struggled to find a suitable replacement for his role on the left side of central midfield.

Arteta has experimented with various players to fill Xhaka’s shoes, including Kai Havertz, who has since settled as a center-forward, and Declan Rice, often accompanied by Jorginho or Thomas Partey playing as a lone number six behind him.

However, Arteta has yet to discover the right combination, leading to rumors circulating about Arsenal’s interest in signing a Premier League midfielder from their rivals.

The potential addition to Arsenal’s midfield that has been making headlines is Bruno Guimarães, Newcastle’s standout player. As reported by Sam Dean of The Telegraph, both Arsenal and Manchester City are poised to compete for the signature of the Brazilian midfielder, echoing their previous tussle over Rice’s transfer last season.

According to the CIES Football Observatory, Guimarães, aged 26, holds a market value of £86m, though Arsenal might need to exceed this figure to secure his services this summer, given his reported £100m release clause at St James’ Park.

Despite recently renewing his contract with Newcastle just seven months ago, extending his stay until 2027, Guimarães’ potential departure could be triggered by the existence of the purported release clause.

Should he join Arsenal, Guimarães could fill the void left by Xhaka and bolster Arteta’s squad as they aim to assert their dominance in English football ahead of the 2024/25 campaign.

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How Guimarães Compares to Granit Xhaka

Since his arrival at Newcastle in 2022 for a fee of £40m, Guimarães has emerged as a pivotal figure under the management of Eddie Howe. Positioned as an adept all-phase number eight, reminiscent of Xhaka’s role for Arsenal in the previous season, he has been instrumental for Newcastle, tallying four goals and six assists in the current Premier League campaign.

In terms of performance metrics, Guimarães’ statistics this season bear resemblance to Xhaka’s from the 2022/23 season. Both players exhibit proficiency in progressive passing and ball retention, although Guimarães stands out defensively, particularly in his adeptness at executing high-pressing tactics implemented by Howe.

Statistical analysis reveals Guimarães’ superiority in progressive passing compared to Xhaka’s performance last season. According to Fbref data, the Brazilian averages 7.57 progressive passes and 1.82 passes into the penalty area per 90 minutes, positioning him among the top 11% and 10% of Premier League midfielders, respectively.

In contrast, Xhaka’s progressive passing numbers from the previous season were slightly lower, placing him in the 73rd percentile with 5.89 progressive passes per 90 minutes, and in the 75th percentile with 1.20 passes into the penalty area per 90 minutes. Guimarães’ potential acquisition by Arsenal would represent an upgrade in ball distribution capabilities.

Moreover, Guimarães surpasses Xhaka in defensive contributions off the ball. He averages more ball recoveries (6.31 per 90 minutes) and tackles/interceptions (3.34 per 90 minutes) compared to Xhaka’s respective figures of 4.47 and 1.47 per 90 minutes in the 2022/23 season.

The statistics suggest that Guimarães could offer Arsenal a defensive enhancement, potentially addressing a key area for improvement in their squad. This strategic move could bolster Arsenal’s competitiveness in challenging for the Premier League title, elevating them to contend with powerhouse teams like Manchester City.

Although securing Guimarães’ signature might prove challenging given Manchester City’s interest, Arsenal stands to gain significantly from his acquisition.

His potential addition to the squad could fill the void left by Xhaka’s departure and provide Arsenal with the necessary tools to mount a serious challenge against Pep Guardiola’s formidable side.

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