Argentine midfielder, Ever Banega, is the latest player to be linked to Arsenal, with reports suggesting that Unai Emery is keen to link up with his former playmaker once again. The 29 year old re-joined Sevilla from Inter Milan last summer for €9m, but is reportedly available for around £12m, despite a stellar season, which saw him make 50 appearances in all competition. But, would Banega be the right choice for Arsenal, or is he one experienced addition too many?
Having played over 500 top level, competitive games (445 at club level / 63 international), Ever Banega is a hugely experienced player. This experience, along with the intelligence that Banega’s possesses would make him a strong addition for any club, with his excellent passing range allowing him to pull the strings from deep positions, whilst also making him a threat further up the pitch.
While Banega is most commonly recognised as a deep lying playmaker, he also carries a typical Latin nastiness. This trait has made him a fantastic ball winner, but also a player who isn’t scared to concede a foul to break up play and stop a potential counter; a style which has long been lost with Arsenal’s soft style over the last decade.
This toughness would certainly be a great addition to Arsenal, but it is not Banega’s primary job. While he is more than competent as a ball winner, he is a player who will primarily focus on attacking, and as such could be a hindrance, rather than a help, to Granit Xhaka who also likes to orchestrate play from deep.
The arrival of Lucas Torreira should see Xhaka paired with a player who compliments his style and helps him protect the back four when Ramsey pushes forward. Behind these to, Arsenal will have Elneny and Maitland-Niles competing for playing time, with both players providing excellent rotation options, along with worthy replacements when injuries and suspensions arrive.
With five central midfielders in the squad, it’s difficult to see where Banega would fit in. While it’s important to have a strong competitive squad, players also need to play and Banega will not be satisfied with a bit part role in the team, having been such a prominent figure for Valencia, Sevilla and Inter Milan over the last decade.
On the other hand, it’s clear that Emery trusts him. He has managed him at two separate clubs, and he made him a central figure at both, showing Banega can be relied upon to carry out the job asked of him. This trust could see Emery add him as a replacement for the departing Jack Wilshere, as an extra creative outlet, and one that can cover Aaron Ramsey when injuries come along.
At £12m, Banega could be a shrewd addition, however it’s likely he could be one experienced addition too many. Arsenal need to be careful about investing is too many players aged around 30, as it will result in another overhaul in two / three years, which would be expensive and result in further transition. Unfortunately, this one seems like one 30 year old too many. Arsenal must look elsewhere.