Former Arsenal midfield player Paul Merson has urged the north London club to sign Declan Rice in the summer transfer window.
Speaking to Sky Sports, he said that the Gunners need to prioritise signing a holding midfielder for next season, and urged the club to join Chelsea in the battle for the signature of Rice.
He further commented:
“Chelsea have been linked with him, but I don’t know why Arsenal aren’t looking at Declan Rice.
“Arsenal are crying out for a holding midfield player. They don’t need a midfielder who’s going to be on the edge of the opposition box, they need a disciplined defensive midfielder, who is going to sit in front of the back four and organise the side; one who, when he gets the ball, gives it simple with 10-yard passes.
“It’s such a hard job and that’s why I can’t believe Arsenal aren’t going in for a player like Rice.
“Arsenal haven’t really had a disciplined defensive midfielder since Gilberto Silva. Everyone talks about the club never really replacing Patrick Vieira, and of course, but they never replaced Gilberto either.
“There are players in the current team that are meant to do that job but they don’t have the discipline to do it, and that needs addressing.”
Lucas Torreira is perhaps the most defensively minded midfielder at the club at the moment, but even he was asked by Unai Emery when he was in charge earlier in the campaign to move further up the pitch from his position, according to Arseblog.
Comparing the Uruguayan international’s stats to that of Rice in the Premier League this term, one can see how the former influenced his side more further up the pitch and was perhaps less disciplined defensively in doing so. Torreira averages more shots and key passes per game than the English international, exemplifying his attacking exploits. However, Rice averages more tackles, interceptions and clearances, according to Whoscored.
Given Torreira’s attacking exploits, it might be wise for Arsenal to bring Rice in. The 21-year old wins 5.8 duels on average in the Premier League this season, and only commits one foul per match, showing his defensive discipline, as per Sofascore.
It is not yet clear how much Rice could potentially cost in the summer transfer window, but Merson says that a good holding midfielder is ‘priceless’.
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