Daily Archives: July 23, 2015
After settling down in Warri yesterday, I wanna drop a quick one before leaving my hotel with my colleagues to go for the meeting that brought me to this great city in the first place. And yeah, they’d opened Shoprite in Waffi Town but I don’t know if I’d have the time to see the facility.
So here we are again, speculating who’s going to be Francis Coquelin’s competitor in the forthcoming season. Geoffrey Kondogbia was mentioned but Roberto Mancini and his Inter hordes swooped for the Monaco powerhouse, Morgan Schneiderlin seemed very likely to join the Gunners but he’s going to be part of the ‘Philosophy’ team. William Carvalho was another plausible option but he has suffered an injury that would sideline him for the entirety of the transfer window.
A new name has been mentioned – Barcelona’s young defensive midfield starlet, Sergi Samper. According to Inside Spanish Football, Arsenal is willing to activate the midfielder’s €12 million release clause. It is widely believed that Arsenal tried to sign the midfielder as far back as 2011 when he was just 15, but those attempts were unsuccessful, so the Gunners poached Hector Bellerin and Jon Toral instead.
Samper is highly-rated in Catalonia and he has been touted as Sergio Busquets natural replacement in the team. He’s yet to make his La Liga debut for the Catalan juggernauts but he featured three times in the Copa del Rey and made a rare appearance for the club in the Champions League, which also turned out to be his first team debut, against APOEL Nicosia.
However, he has featured heavily for Barcelona B in the Segunda division, making 74 appearances and six goals from a deep-lying playmaker position, something like a quarterback like Xabi Alonso. Samper is a very good distributor of the ball and he likes to dictate the tempo of the game. He also has the instincts of an anchor man as he knows when to make an interception or a crunching tackle to win the ball back for his team. He anticipates the runs and passes of the opposition, proving you don’t have to be physically imposing to play the position as long as you are clever.
This YouTube video gives an overview of the talent that is Samper.
He signed a contract last season which runs into 2017 but having a release clause of €12 million simply means that the Gunners can poach him away from Barcelona’s hands and I’m sure many Arsenal fans would love the thought of that – taking another Barcelona player that is highly-rated. Both teams have a good working relationship and history can tell you that they know how to get on with business when the need arises.
The ultimate question is – does Samper fit the bill for the new defensive midfielder Arsenal needs? I’d say yes and these are my reasons why.
Francis Coquelin just broke into the first team and he will need to feature consistently for Arsenal if he wants to continue improving. With Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini providing back-up and reaching their twilight with the team, signing a youngster like Samper would be a good fit because he would be able to settle in well (there are a few players with Barcelona roots in the team and the Spanish speaking folks will make him feel at home).
When the likes of Arteta and Flamini finally leave in 2017, Samper would be ready to challenge Coquelin for his place at the start of the 2016/17 campaign. If he signs for the Gunners, I’d expect to see him in the Capital One Cup and the lesser games in the FA Cup as well.
We will just have to monitor the situation and see how things play out in the coming weeks.
Time to leave for my meeting.
Bonus Reading: Sergi Samper – Barcelona’s Modern Day Pep Guardiola – ESPN
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