Arsenal have enjoyed a year of vast progression, with Mikel Arteta overseeing the development of many of their strengths into some of the best players in their field.
The Spaniard owes huge credit to the way his project blossomed, from the stuttering start he faced to the 2021/22 failure to secure the top four. Nothing has slowed his steady improvement, and he and his club benefited massively from it last season.
After securing Champions League football and announcing themselves by far as Manchester City’s closest competitor, the task now is to close that gap, with this summer a key opportunity to do so.
Arguably the biggest weakness that has been portrayed in the last campaign came at the heart of the defence, as William Saliba’s injury in mid-March saw their form plummet and the title charge derailed. Although this is largely due to the Frenchman’s immense presence, a lack of proper support has really exacerbated his absence.
Therefore, strengthening their backline should be at the top of their priority list.
Fortunately, a great opportunity has already presented itself this transfer window, as it was reported last month that the Gunners were one of several clubs to watch Bayern Munich’s Benjamin Pavard.
Reports in Italy have said that due to a shrinking £84,000-a-week contract, an offer of just €20m (£17m) could be enough to tempt him to leave Germany, as reported by Tuttosport, via FCInternews.
Could Benjamin Pavard replicate Ben White?
Given his ability to play both at centre-back and right-back, it’s hard not to immediately draw comparisons between the France international and Ben White.
After all, the former Brighton and Hove Albion stalwart moved to north London having enjoyed most of his career through centre, only to have Arteta employ him at the back in their busiest year. successful to date. It is not a coincidence.
The presence of such a defensive machine provides that foundation for their fluid attack to thrive, and as such Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard have all had their best scoring seasons in the league.
This is due to the 25-year-old’s 1.6 tackles and two clearances per game whose simple positional awareness makes him a stronger defensive unit.
So to add another player who has seen a similar positional progression in the team would immediately have valid cover for Saliba and whoever is selected as the starting right-back.
After all, during a tenure in which the Bavarian giants narrowly won the Bundesliga title, the 27-year-old lived up to Uli Hoenes’ praise that he would be an ‘exceptional signing’.
His 7.35 average rating on Sofascore was actually the second highest of any member of his team, behind Joshua Kimmich, and is maintained by his five goal contributions, 2.3 tackles, 1.5 steals and 2 .5 clearances per game.
His state of mind was also hailed, with his former boss Julian Nagelsmann affirming in March: “Benji gave a good performance. He always wants to win. He scored goals today too. He played very well against Paris (first leg). know that he feels good here.”
With added attacking momentum but sharing a wider physique that differentiates itself from the modern midfield-style full-back, these two could offer huge benefits to team depth, not to mention adding another serial winner in their ranks.