Arsenal are reportedly interested in Ridle Baku, who is currently at VFL Wolfsburg.
What’s the latest on Arsenal’s interest in Ridle Baku?
As per Sport BILD, the Gunners are observing the German-born right-back, but are yet to make a move.
According to the source, the 25-year-old does not have a release clause inserted into his contract and as a result, the negotiations would be open between Arsenal and the Bundesliga outfit.
The north London side may find it difficult to sign the defender though, as Premier League rivals Chelsea are also said to be interested in Baku.
What would Baku bring to Arsenal?
Arsenal’s converted-right-back Benjamin White has been deployed in this position for the season, with Takehiro Tomiyasu providing support on occasion.
The nature of the 25-year-old’s progression forward with compatriot Bukayo Saka has proven fruitful for Mikel Arteta’s side, and it is unlikely that the Spaniard would put an end to this.
However, if the Gunners are to sign Baku, they would inherit a fullback who has consistently been successful in attack this past year.
The £23m-rated defender is ranked within the top 2% of players in his position in Europe’s top five leagues this past year per 90 minutes for non-penalty goals, whereas he is in the 14% for expected assists, as per FBref.
These statistics demonstrate that Baku, an integral part of Niko Kovac’s side with 26 Bundesliga appearances this season, would bring an attacking flair to the Emirates from the fullback position.
When comparing the Germany international with Arteta’s two current right-backs, White and Tomiyasu, the 25-year-old, once praised for his versatility on the Analysing Anfield Podcast by David Hughes, is less stable defensively but offers a different attacking outlet to what we have seen at the Emirates thus far.
As per 90 minutes, the former Mainz 05 ace wins 0.74 tackles, whereas White wins 1.12 and Tomiyasu wins 2.43 – an astronomical increase. It is this area of his game that may put sporting director Edu Gaspar off from making an approach for Baku.
However, the 5 foot 9 maestro’s attacking prowess is different to White’s.
The former Brighton and Hove Albion defender is more likely to pass the ball to Saka before making an overlap to free space for the England international to cut into the right half-space, whereas Baku receives the ball from a progressive pass more often (5.11 to 3.82 per 90 minutes).
While Arsenal’s current right-back was initially signed as a centre-back, his emergence into a fullback means that Baku – who was once lauded as “outstanding” by former Mainz head coach Sandro Schwarz – may struggle to break into Arsenal’s starting XI. If he does sign, he would provide a different skill set in that position than the Gunners currently have, as Tomiyasu is also a defensive fullback.