February 25, 2024

Why Arsenal are entertaining the idea of signing Everton’s Amadou Onana


Christmas Day, Arsenal sat top of the Premier League as they secured a creditable draw at Liverpool to reach the 40-mark after 18 matches. Two games later, and they’ve dropped to fourth in the Premier League, and are now five points behind the Reds, who knocked the Gunners out of the FA Cup over the weekend.

Many will point to a lack of goalscorer to their recent struggles. Indeed, Arsenal have mustered 61 shots across their last three matches, and found the back of the net just once. They have lost all three games. And yet it’s another central midfielder Mikel Arteta supposedly wants to sign this month. Amadou Onana, who has previously been on the Gunners’ radar, is believed to have been identified as the number one midfield target for the north London side.


This despite spending big to sign Declan Rice and Kai Havertz from West Ham and Chelsea, respectively, as Arteta looks to bolster his squad accordingly as Arsenal look to get their campaign back on track. Fortunately for Arsenal, they don’t play again until their welcome of Crystal Palace in 10 days’ time to give the squad a breather before their campaign resumes. They could well have a welcome boost in time for their meeting with the Eagles should reports of a move for Onana prove correct.


The Belgian hasn’t exactly set the world alight at Everton this season, with their campaign to date built upon a solid defensive foundation but there is an argument to be made that the Toffees’ reactive approach under Sean Dyche is limiting Onana’s influence. Nevertheless, the 22-year-old has been key in ensuring the defence is well protected as he ranks 20th for total tackles (41) in the Premier League this season.


He’s been a real presence in the middle of the park for Dyche’s side this season, and Everton will of course be loath to losing a midfielder not only of his talent, but one who’ll undoubtedly improve in time. And for an Arsenal side in the midst of a midfield revamp, they require fresh blood to remain competitive in both domestic and continental competition, even with the additions of Rice and Havertz.


Onana would add the additional battling element to this Arsenal midfield, strengthening their defensive resolve in the process, and crucially add an element of versatility in the middle of the park. Martin Odegaard has one of the central midfield roles nailed down but even with his marginal improvements, that left central midfield position is still up for grabs, even with Havertz’s marginal improvements following the November international break. Rice could, in theory, operate in such a role however Onana is one who’d be able to thirve in the position. Should Rice ever drop out of the XI, then the latter could fill the void as the midfield anchor if needs must.

The youngster plays from the left side of the central midfield under Dyche so it wouldn’t be as though he needs a period of adjustment to the role, though he would need time to get up to speed with the demands of Arteta. Everton’s possession average of 38.7% is the third lowest in the Premier League, while Arsenal rank third (60.5%) for this metric. There would be a major shift in style and that may impact Onana’s start to life at the Emirates should a move go through this month.


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