Reports surfaced on Saturday that Aston Villa have agreed a £30-35 million deal with Norwich City for Emi Buendia. The creative midfielder had previously been linked with Arsenal for quite some time and the Gunners even reportedly made a bid for the Argentine in recent days as well. While news of the impending Villa transfer may be a blow to the north London club’s transfer plans, there is obviously plenty of time left in the window to make appropriate moves.
Finding a suitable creative midfielder is undoubtedly Arsenal’s biggest priority in this summer’s transfer market. After all, the team’s most glaring issue in this past season was creating enough goal-scoring opportunities. The Gunners scored just 55 total goals in 38 Premier league games last campaign, the ninth most in England’s top flight. Along with the lack of goals, Arsenal also managed just 8.7 key passes per game as a team. This ranked 12th among all Premier League clubs on the season.
Buendia certainly would have helped the Gunners in the creative department, as he led the Championship in assists and key passes for the 2020/21 campaign. However, now that it appears as if Arsenal will not be signing the Argentina international, there is another player that could be receiving attention from the Gunners: Christopher Nkunku. The RB Leipzig midfielder/forward has been a smash hit since his arrival from Paris Saint-Germain in 2019.
Statistically speaking, Nkunku’s numbers jump off the page. The 23-year-old Frenchman led the entire Bundesliga in key passes and shot-creating actions per 90 minutes last season. In fact, his 6.18 shot-creating actions per 90 minutes was level with the Premier League’s Jack Grealish. Along with the impressive creative statistics, Nkunku also ranks high in goal-creating actions, progressive passes received, and carries into the opposing penalty area.
Nkunku is also extremely versatile. He can be deployed in the number 10 role, further deeper in central midfield, on either wing, and even as a center forward. Having a player of his ability and versatility would be a major weapon to have for any club. Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta also loves attacking players that are active and help out in defense. Nkunku also checks this box off as well. In fact, he ranks in the 98th percentile among attacking midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues in tackles and pressures in the attacking third area of the pitch.
It was reported earlier in the year that Leipzig would consider offers for Nkunku in the £27 million range. If true, Arsenal should jump at the chance to sign the Frenchman in that price range, especially considering they supposedly made a higher bid for Buendia earlier this week. Nkunku could be the perfect combination of creativity and motor that Arteta needs in his attack.
Author: Chris Moore