Arsenal should make a summer move for Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse, Sky Sports pundit Kevin Phillips has claimed.
The Lowdown: Ward-Prowse’s importance at Saints
Since then, the 27-year-old has made 350 appearances for the south coast club, 293 of which have come in the Premier League.
Ward-Prowse has played a central part in Southampton’s success at maintaining a top-flight position over the previous decade. SofaScore have highlighted his contributions this season, having ranked him Ralph Hasenhuttl’s best player for the current campaign, awarding him an impressive 7.33 rating.
The Latest: Phillips tips Arsenal to move for JWP
On 22 February, football.london’s Chris Wheatley reported that Granit Xhaka could leave Arsenal in the summer window, with a move to Serie A outfit AS Roma “certainly possible”.
When questioned over who could replace the 29-year-old in north London, Phillips named the Saints skipper as the obvious choice. Speaking with Football Insider, he claimed:
“Ward-Prowse is the sort of player Arsenal need.
“Technically he is a very, very good player and he’s a dead-ball specialist. He’s the sort of player Arteta would love in his squad I imagine.
“Could they get him out of Southampton? That’s the question. He just signed a new deal and I think he’s happy there. It would be a big test if Arsenal could knocking though. He could be persuaded to join.
“Ward-Prowse is the sort of player Arsenal need to be looking at in the summer. He’d compliment Partey well and let’s be honest, there’s not many better set-piece takers than him in the world.”
The Verdict: Huge loss for Saints
As Phillips mentioned, Ward-Prowse is renowned for his free-kick ability. Pep Guardiola even hailed the Southampton captain as “the best free-kick taker I have seen in my life”. When combined with the midfielder ranking in the 85th percentile for assists and the 92nd percentile for expected assists (via FB Ref), it is easy to see why the ex-Sunderland striker has touted the 27-year-old as a possible successor to Xhaka at Arsenal.
The Saints skipper has even been praised by Real Madrid legend Roberto Carlos, who said he likes him “very much” as a player. With similar comments made by his team-mates – Oriol Romeu has called him “unbelievable” – and the aforementioned SofaScore ranking, this shows just how big a blow it would be for Hasenhuttl and his side if Ward-Prowse is tempted into leaving his boyhood club.
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