Numerous sources (for instance: The Daily Mail) have linked Arsenal with Lyon captain Maxime Gonalons. I’m usually sceptical about summer transfer rumours that emerge at this stage of the season, but this one seems too sensible to dismiss just yet.
24-year-old Gonalons is French and wouldn’t break the bank. So far so good for Arsenal. But in all seriousness, he might just have the credentials to be their next signing.
Wenger’s teams have always included a strong defensive midfielder – Petit, Gilberto, Flamini, Song. This season, the position is vacant and this gap in front of the back four has been a major factor in Arsenal’s lack of clean sheets.
With talented attacking players in the form of Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla, plus consistent performances from Mikel Arteta, it’s a shame that this one position is letting their midfield down. Arteta has undoubtedly been a fantastic signing since joining from Everton in 2011, but he’s being used as a makeshift holding midfielder at the moment and would be better accompanied by someone stronger and more defensively inclined.
At 6’2″ and with a reputation for tough tackling, Gonalons may be the ideal man to fill the void. He’s put in over 35 appearances for his club this season, been given the captain’s armband and played a significant part in taking Lyon to second place in Ligue 1, where they currently sit just four points behind PSG.
His rise from youth signing at the age of ten to captaincy can be put down to Lyon’s investment in their youth academy, which has been a greater priority for the club in recent years since last winning the league in 2008. By April 2012, at the age of 23, Gonalons had notched up 100 appearances for Lyon and at the end of that season lifted his first trophy with the club, The French Cup.
He’s only ever played in the French league, but regular appearances in Europe may make up for that. He scored at Anfield when Lyon beat Liverpool in the Champions League in 2009 and also scored against Tottenham when his side went painfully close to beating them in the Europa League in February.
While he’s not the fastest, he’s good in possession and is an accurate passer of the ball. His goal against Tottenham was a header from a free kick, showing that his height and skill in the air would be a useful asset in set pieces, both in attack and defence.
A cheaper and lower profile option than Victor Wanyama or Yann M’Vila, Gonalons could be the signing Arsenal are looking for.
What’s your take? Should Arsenal pursue Maxime Gonalons?