Thoughts on Arsenal Transfer Target, Ricardo Rodriguez
While we patiently wait for the European Championships, transfer speculations and rumors have taken center stage yet again with the tabloids reporting that Arsenal is set to activate VFL Wolfsburg’s Ricardo Rodriguez’s release clause of £19m. Rodriguez scored three goals for the German outfit in the 2015/16 season, which was a stark contrast of the previous campaign where he scored 10 goals for the club.
Dieter Hacking’s side finished the Bundesliga in eighth place, which means that they would not feature in Europe next season. They also suffered an early cup exit when they lost in the second round of the DFB Pokal to eventual winners, Bayern Munich but they enjoyed a stellar Champions League campaign by their modest standards, topping a group that had Manchester United, PSV Eindhoven and CSKA Moscow before easing past Gent in the knockout round. The Wolves dared to dream when they defeated Real Madrid by two unreplied goals in the first leg of the quarterfinals but a Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired second leg saw the German side crash out of the competition.
Rodriguez has been an integral part of the Wolfsburg team in his three seasons with the club. In 157 appearances, he has scored 20 goals and provided 23 assists. At 23, he has a very bright future ahead of him and with such a release clause available on his contract, it would be a great opportunity for any club interested in his services.
Looking at the current state of things, Rodriguez would have the threat of Nacho Monreal and Kieran Gibbs to contend with if he joins the club. Monreal has spent three-and-a-half seasons with Arsenal and has become a mainstay in the defense. He was a regular in the Premier League and the Champions League, leaving Gibbs to play in the domestic cup games. Gibbs has been at the club for close to 10 years and it seems like the boss doesn’t have much faith in him. He has been reduced to a handful of substitute appearances in the league, playing in front of Monreal when Arsenal want’s to defend a lead.
If Arsenal sign Rodriguez, it’s evident that Gibbs would have to be the guy that would be axed from the club. This would show the ruthless side of Arsene Wenger that surfaced in his pursuit of Chelsea shot stopper, Petr Cech. Arsenal had Wojciech Szczesny and David Ospina at the start if the 2015/16 season and I’m sure Wenger would have had no issues using both goalies in the course the campaign but a perfect opportunity sprung up with Cech and Arsenal grabbed it with both hands – the rewards? A Golden Glove and a more coordinated defense.
Such an opportunity has shown itself again with Rodriguez. He’s 23, Monreal is 30 and can give three or four more seasons for the Gunners. Rodriguez is an energetic full back with good pace and he has an amazing technique. Brilliant crosser of the ball and a good set piece taker. I’m pretty sure he would give Monreal a good run for his money.
I will watch him closely in the Euros.
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