Liverpool got over the line in their pursuit of Thiago Alcantara from Bayern Munich, while Manchester United appear to have made little progress in their planned purchase of Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund.
These long-running stories can easily go either way, with all big-money transfers incredibly complex to negotiate.
For Arsenal, Thomas Partey of Atletico Madrid has been on their radar for several months, as Mikel Arteta looks to improve his midfield options for the gruelling 2020/21 season.
The latest news is that Atleti are looking to take Lucas Torreira on loan as part of the deal, but the Gunners would rather sell the Uruguayan – possibly to Torino – to help fund their transfer spending.
With less than two weeks of the transfer window remaining, it’s a distinct possibility that Arsenal won’t be able to complete the signing. No Partey, no party.
One possible alternate option could be Idrissa Gueye, the former Aston Villa and Everton defensive midfielder. His current team, Paris Saint-Germain, are reportedly looking to raise some funds and would be willing to let him leave, with Atltioc Madrid reportedly keen on signing him as a potential replacement for Partey.
But what if Arsenal moved on from Partey and went for Gueye instead?
The website smarterscout builds profiles of players based on their performance statistics, and from these they are able to establish who is similar to any particular footballer in their database.
Looking at Partey’s La Liga numbers from last season, their top suggestion for a match from one of Europe’s big five leagues is Milan Badelj. However, the Croatian has only just signed for Genoa so wouldn’t be available for a move.
But Ibrahim Sangare might be, and he has been linked with Arsenal in the past few weeks too. He’s also classed as a ‘young player to watch’ by smarterscout, and would represent a better long-term bet than Gueye, who turns 31 on Saturday.
It’s interesting to note that the PSG man does not appear as a match for Partey, so perhaps they are not as similar as their shared position of defensive midfielder would suggest.
Nonetheless, at face value both players have similar skill-sets, and can offer something which Arsenal lacked in 2019/20.
The Gunners made the fewest interceptions in the Premier League last season. While some of this will be down to them having more possession on average than the majority of teams, Arsenal enjoyed significantly less of the ball than Manchester City and Liverpool, who both made more interceptions.
Both Partey and Gueye are strong in this area. The Atleti man was joint-seventh in La Liga for interceptions last season (via WhoScored), with an average of 1.7 per 90 minutes.
Why should you sign up?
In each football.london Arsenal bulletin, we’ll be bringing you the latest breaking news, transfer features and comment pieces, as well as the key talking points for fans.
We’ll also send special newsletters when big stories break or there’s a special event happening.
How do you sign up?
It’s easy and only takes seconds.
Simply type your email address into the box at the top of this article – or any article on the Arsenal section of football.london in fact – labelled ‘Get the biggest daily stories by email’ and click ‘Subscribe’.
And that’s it, you’re all set.
If you decide later that you no longer wish to receive the emails, simply follow the unsubscribe link in one of the newsletters – but we don’t think you’ll want to.
For more details, click here.
Gueye was slightly further down the Ligue 1 rankings, but will have faced fewer passes to intercept with PSG being so dominant. Even so, his average was 1.8 interceptions per 90, and it was over three during his Premier League years.
Arsenal weren’t so far behind their peers in the tackling stats, but the likes of Chelsea and Leicester still made more than them despite their higher possession averages. Partey averaged 2.5 per 90 minutes last season, while Gueye dispossessed an incredible 3.5 players for every 90 minutes he spent on the pitch.
According to FBRef.com, the Senegal international was the Premier League’s second top tackler in each of his two seasons with Everton.
Gueye has experience of the English game and is worthy of consideration if Arsenal can’t land Partey.