A closer look: Would Julian Brandt be a good purchase for Arsenal?
By Sash (LTArsenal)
The day Arsenal missed out on Houssem Aouar, I was devastated. We desperately needed to sign a creative midfielder to fill the void left by Mesut Ozil’s absence. The Gunners initially started without a number 10 and then went on to try Alexandre Lacazette in that position – but saw little success.
What transpired since is Emile Smith-Rowe filling in admirably in the number 10 role. Whilst there is a lot to be encouraged about, we have to take a step back and realise that he’s just 20 years of age and still learning his trade. It is said that an area for Smith-Rowe to work on is his fitness. This tells you that we definitely need to bring in someone who can ease the burden off ESR.
Julian Brandt is a name that has emerged recently, reported first by the ever-reliable David Ornstein for The Athletic and relayed by Bild since.
The 24-year-old German international has found game time hard to come by this season and is said to be disgruntled over his situation with the German club.
Brandt is capable of playing in numerous positions. From left wing, to central midfield and attacking midfield. Personally, I also think he has the characteristics to play false nine, even if it isn’t his best position.
The German international is excellent when it comes to calling for the ball, making himself available in those half spaces, driving at the opposition and playing incisive passes. This is something that Arsenal lack in the squad.
Having technical quality alone is not sufficient to be what I’d like to call the ‘midfield linkman.’
A player who connects the midfield pivot with the front 3 should be someone who has the guile to find space at all times. The main reason why Alexandre Lacazette and Joe Willock failed in that position isn’t down to a lack of technical quality in the ‘final pass’, it is because they find it difficult to find space in packed midfields on a consistent basis – that in itself is an art and something Mesut Ozil, for example was very good at.
When you find space consistently, opposition players constantly shift away from their positions. The issue with someone like Lacazette in that position is he is way too static. Brandt certainly isn’t.
The German international typically played out wide on the left during his days with Bayer Leverkusen, but a tactical shift by Peter Bosz during the 2018/19 season took his game to the next level. He played as a central midfielder who was given freedom to express himself, and express he did!
Brandt scored 7 goals and registered 11 assists in 33 Bundesliga appearances. It is worth noting as well that Leverkusen’s team was built around Kai Havertz - Brandt played a supporting role and did that really well.
His time at Borussia Dortmund has been mixed. After a good first season (3 goals, 7 assists and 7 big chances), he found himself out of favor this year. There are certain reasons for this.
If I have to pick 1 deficiency in Brandt’s game, he can be a bit passive off the ball when it comes to his pressing intensity and in his willingness to fight and win the ball. This is something that is very much fixable in my opinion – he is still only 24 years of age and will learn.
Additionally, Dortmund themselves have been poor this season and when a team is not playing well, good players can suffer too.
Dortmund are stacked with quality in Brandt’s position and I wouldn’t be surprised if they listened to offers for him – he is too good a player to be on the bench.
Football.London's Chris Wheatley reported BvB have an asking price of £25m. There were also whispers from Germany stating Dortmund are willing to do a loan deal.
At that price, it is a deal we must absolutely look to do. Low risk, high ceiling. Yes, there are concerns about how quick his adaptation will be, but with the rise of Smith Rowe, there is great scope for competition in that area.
Brandt can either play in a pivot with Partey, as a left central midfielder in a 3, or as the number 10. If we’re short of numbers out-wide, he can fill in there too. That versatility is a huge asset.
To conclude, getting this deal done is an absolute no brainer.