By Walter Broeckx
We should buy more world class players. It is a sentence often used by fans who want us to buy more.
So maybe we could try to find what is exactly meant by “a world class” player. If I think of world class players I think of players who can turn a game and win a game. Players who are so excellent in some skill they have, be it dribbling or the vision to deliver the killer ball. Mostly they are players who play in an attacking position or from midfield. And then I come up with names like : Christiano Ronaldo, Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Sneijder, Kaka from a few years back, and well that is about it. The only other real world class player I can think about is the one we have: Fabregas.
Now just the fact that you put two world class players in one team does not automatically give you titles. Because it can happen that the two players don’t match together and the balance in the team could get lost. But if we take a look at the players who are named I think we all can understand that those players are out of our reach. We would have to pay not only over the odds to buy them from their current team but we also will have to break our wages policy. And this could be the start of a negative spiral in wages. Other players will look at the superstar who gets far more than they and could end up saying: so you receive double of my money, so you run twice as much as I do. I think we can understand that this would bring trouble in the team.
So it is fair to say that those big money signings and big earners are out of our reach.
But I understand that most people talk about world class defenders and maybe a world class defensive midfield player. If we start with defensive midfielders I really cannot think of many names that look better than the player we have as a first choice for the moment. I really think I would take Song over Diarra (Real Madrid), or Busquet (Barcelona). Maybe I would have Essien from the last years but he looks to be very injury prone for the moment and will he be the same player that he was before his injury? No one can answer that question so I would stick to Song as he is younger and will improve in the next years. After all it was only his first year as a player who got a starting place in the team.
Melo is a name that is often mentioned but I really don’t know if he would be good enough. He is a player that likes to change teams a lot in his career and when he finally got to a top team, Juventus, he failed. Also his attitude on the field and sometimes a lack of composure cost his team, just as it cost Brazil in the game against Holland at the last world cup. So I think I will take Song over Melo also.
And let us not forget we have now with Frimpong a young Gunner who is having a great pre season and who is impressing in every game he has played so far. So I feel rather confident with Frimpong as a cover at defensive midfield. Let’s grow our own world class defensive midfielders.
Then let’s move on to the heart of the defence. If you can give me names of world class defenders I would welcome it. I think in defence you must always have a good partnership between two players. If played alongside another they could look average or even poor, but when you sometimes put two players together they form a natural partnership and both look great. I think Vidic and Ferdinand are the most obvious example. Vidic was mostly unknown but he seemed to match with Ferdinand and they both formed a great defensive partnership in the last seasons.
So it could well be that a player who looks good on paper (or on your TV) is only looking good because of his partner. So if you buy a defender it could well mean that you take him away from his natural partner and that the so called world class defender becomes an average one just because his partner is missing. So one has to be very careful in buying a defender just because he looks good in his team.
A name that is mentioned a lot is the name of Mertesacker of Werder Bremen. And yes I would love it if we would buy him. But I wouldn’t be sure that he would be the best buy we ever made. It could happen but it all depends on how he integrates with the other defenders we have for the moment. It could be that a natural partnership arises but it could also happen that both defenders play on an island and don’t connect with each other.
And while speaking of writing people off too early I also would like to remind you of the career of Mertesacker, who is one of the fan’s favourites to sign this summer. When he was around 18 years old he was considered as an average player and he even thought about ending his career at that time. He then got a chance to play for his club Hannover against FC Koln and was substituted at half time as he was playing so poorly. And it took him another few years to become an established player for his team.
It was only a few seasons later his talent was recognised and he was noticed by the bigger club: Werder Bremen. And Mertesacker who never got a call up for his national youth teams before the U20 team became the defender he is today. So let us not write players off before we have seen them play for a proper amount of time.
And those who are looking at the last 20 minutes against Celtic and point the finger at our defence I would also like to consider the following facts: our normal 3 defenders from last season went off at that time. And also the defensive work done all game by the rest of the attack and midfield stopped for a big part. Some players did not track back any more and let their players run at our defenders who were outnumbered on a few occasions. We can blame the defence but I think it is wise to remember that defending is a team effort and team work. And I mean the whole team and not just the 4 defenders.
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