With every injury Arteta suffers, it becomes more evident that we are going to need another midfield anchorman sooner than later, and his replacement could just be Monaco’s midfield marshal, Joao Moutinho.
Reports according to Daily Star have it that the 28 year old Portuguese International, who was heavily linked with Tottenham last season before he joined Monaco, would be open to a move to the Premier League after apparently not been impressed with the club’s decision to sell top players Radamel Falcao and, especially, James Rodriguez with whom he arrived from Porto.
Moutinho has been a central figure to Leonadro Jardim’s midfield this season, playing in all games of the season so far and though he is usually deployed as a deep lying playmaker, he managed to score the winner in Monaco’s first Champions League game for a decade (since their appearance at the Final in 2004) against Bayern Leverkusen.
Arsenal is in clear need of a new strong and powerful defensive midfielder who has both the personality and technical ability to provide an adequate shield for the back four. As Flamini has not been able to live up to expectation since his return and Arteta on his last legs, a glance through Moutinho’s files could give us a clue into whether we’ve got the right man to replace both.
He has Negatives…
Gooners who’ve begged for a defensive man with a bit more on the physical front won’t be talking a second look at Moutinho as he is even 5inches closer to earth than Arteta is. Arteta’s deficiency in build has often been sighted as one of the reasons why he has never been a good defensive midfielder and with Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic possessing the frame which is, perhaps, universally acclaimed for a perfect holding/defensive midfielder, Moutinho won’t come up tops in a poll on this criterion.
…But Plenty Positives
However, what Moutinho lacks in physical macho, he surely possesses in abundant technical maestro. Upon Deco’s retirement from the Portuguese National team, Moutinho’s coming to the fore was like an incarnation of the former Barcelona magician as his wonderful passing ability is very comparable to the Xavis and Krooses of today.
Arsene Wenger’s intention to offer Arteta an extension would imply that Moutinho would come in as a teammate rather than a replacement and barring a mysterious breakdown in negotiations, both players would have even been teammates at Everton when David Moyes tried to sign him in 2008.
He’s a Winner
It may not be loudly noticed but one impact the signings of Olivier Giroud and Mesut Ozil has had over the past few seasons is that they have come in as players who have tasted glory, ultimately culminating in last season’s FA Cup success. In Moutinho, we will be getting a player who had, prior to his 2013 move to Monaco, played for two of Portugal’s super powers Sporting and Porto, winning 12 major titles.
At 28, he is matured enough to be one of the leaders in the team, helping the younger ones come through while his experience at the top teams where he has played would see us have a player with vast experience at the highest level.
The stumble to a January move, of course, could be his involvement with Monaco in the Champions League already, but considering that was not a problem when Arshavin agreed to join in 2009, it could still happen that Moutinho wants the move so much that he doesn’t care about European football.
Ultimately, it would come down to the price being demanded by Monaco. They have managed to exert a firm influence in the bargain for their players, recouping a whooping £65million from James Rodriguez alone, not to mention the £20m fee forced from United for Falcao’s loan deal. Will Wenger pay £30m for Moutinho in January?
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