Two things must happen in January if Arsenal will sustain a challenge for the top four or even beyond: we must improve on our defensive system, and defensive players must be added to improve the defensive quality.
The addition of this quality will pose the biggest challenge as there are not an embarrassing lot of quality available at the moment, as clubs tend to keep their best players in the winter period. Whether it is Lars Bender, Morgan Schneiderlin, Geoffrey Kondogbia, Axel Witsel, it is likely that Dortmund, Southampton, Monaco and Zenit will demand ridiculous amounts for their priced stars if we made a move for them in January.
And even if they were all available, would they really solve the defensive midfield issues in the team?
Perhaps the man to do so would be Spartak Moscow’s Brazilian midfielder, Romulo.
According to the Metro, talks have now reached an advanced stage with the Russians for the 24-year old, with a deal to be reached as soon as Monday – the day we find out our opponents in the Champions League. Bearing in mind the possibilities that could emanate from that draw with Bayern, Barcelona and Madrid on the waiting list, it will be great news if the announcement of a signing of Romulo’s quality was made to ‘temper’ the worries of whatever cards UEFA would deal us.
And exactly how much quality does Romulo possess?
Well, for starters, he’s been likened to former Invincible and World Cup winner, Gilberto Silva, and seeing that was our last Brazilian success in the transfer market and also the most balanced DM we’ve had in the last decade – way better than Song – that cannot be taken for granted.
Romulo is a core defensive midfielder, by training and thoroughness, and his being likened to our last real stalwart in the holding role is stuff of pure elation.
Goal.com’s assessment of youngsters billed to shine at the 2012 Olympics in London rated him as one who “tracks his runner well and judges his tackles with composure”. That was indeed the case in the tournament as the Brasilian U23 team, which included other players like Barcelona’s Neymar and Chelsea’s Oscar, went all the way to the final, losing narrowly to Mexico.
Since the departure of Gilberto in 2008, we’ve really lacked a strong dependable holding player who has established himself as a core of our team. Alex Song had one very good season before moving to Barcelona but he did not exactly answer all the questions, as much as Gilberto did during the Invincibles days.
Romulo, at over 6ft, has the physical presence of our Brasilian legend and comes with a bit more comfort ability on the ball. He is not afraid to go forward too, as his one goal in his eight Selecao appearances may show. Romulo, when fit and constantly playing is as good as a one-time target, Luiz Gustavo, and even City’s Fernandinho.
Arsene Wenger has not got much wrong when it’s come to making acquisitions for key positions in the team and the business of the last summer window proved just that. Though largely unknown to the majority, Romulo will hopefully prove the best bargain yet.
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