Should Arsenal target Bruno Guimarães?
By Jahid Islam
Hello readers of We Love You Arsenal! I’m Jahid and, after a week or so’s hiatus, I’m back with another Midfield target. This week’s piece focuses in on Bruno Guimarães; a deep-lying Brazilian Central Midfielder who’s been stellar for Olympique Lyonnais and the Brazil Olympic team as of late. Arsenal have a history of signing obscure Brazilian midfielders who go on to become cult heroes; think Gilberto Silva and Edu. Judging by that track record, as well as his superb metrics, I reckon we take a gamble on Bruno Guimarães. Without further ado, let’s jump right into the stats, courtesy of Fbref.com. I love these guys. At a quick overview, Bruno Guimarães appears to be one of the most well rounded players I’ve written an article on so far. Literally all aspects of his game are in the upper percentiles in comparison to other central midfielders in Europe. That robustness, versatility, and ability would be fantastic in Arteta’s preferred 4-3-3, as well as in the fluid 3-2-5 we’ve deployed whilst in attack this season. Thomas Partey would absolutely thrive with Bruno Guimarães in a central midfield double-pivot. A player of Partey’s talent deserves that, at the very least. Passing Any midfielder worthy of consideration must have the ability to pick out a pass, and Guimarães has put up some great passing metrics last season. For example, Bruno ranks in the 90th percentile for long passes completed. A long pass completion percentage of 81.5% is slightly down on Xhaka’s 82.9%, but with scope to develop, there’s no significant difference between the two. Put simply, we won’t be seriously missing Granit’s vision if we replace him with Bruno. Whilst Granit Xhaka does have the better of Bruno when it comes to the majority of passing stats, the gulf in age, development and potential must also be considered. In terms of Passes under pressure, Bruno ranks in the 98th percentile with 12.27 per 90. That’s one of the things that Xhaka’s significantly inferior to Bruno at. I can’t help but think a player who can handle the pressing side of the Premier League would be essential in a Mikel Arteta side that loves to play out from the back. Subverting the press is what we’ve seen in pre-season games already, and Bruno would seriously help us progress seamlessly from defence to attack. One weakness of Bruno, evident by watching him play, is his over-reliance on his right foot. The stats back that up too. 64.03 passes per 90 attempted with his right foot, compared to just 4.18 with his left, isn’t much different from Granit Xhaka’s dependency on his left which he was constantly criticised over.
But just have a look at those passing stats. *Chef’s Kiss*. Truly outstanding. Creativity Despite being comfortable as a deep-lying midfielder, Guimarães also thrives in filling a role that contributes to the attacking play. 0.46 Goal creating actions per 90 ranks Bruno in the 95th percentile, which absolutely trounces Xhaka’s 0.11 per 90. That added attacking threat to our midfield is something we’ve lacked since the days of Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla; deeper midfielders who are adept dribblers, and directly contribute to shot creation. An adept dribbler Bruno certainly is, with 3.31 carries into the final third per 90 which puts him in the 98th percentile. He’s a player that offers so many dimensions to our attack. Pinpoint passing, dazzling dribbling, and naughty nutmegs are all aspects of his game, and he’d wreak havoc against opposition midfields and defences. Here’s Bruno Guimarães’ creative metrics straight from the horse’s mouth:
I know I’ve come across a bit harsh on Granit Xhaka. I like the guy, but it makes sense to use him as a yardstick for comparing Bruno Guimarães to, considering Bruno will most likely come in as Xhaka’s replacement (or at least to compete with him, now there is news of a potential new Xhaka deal on the table). Defensive Acumen Despite profiling as an excellent deep-lying playmaker, Bruno also contributes superbly on the defensive side. With 4.18 tackles per 90, he ranks in the 98th percentile. That’s seriously impressive, and playing in a high pressing Lyon side means that Bruno makes 7.17 successful pressures per 90. If you’ve seen any of the Arsenal training clips plastered all over their social media accounts, you’d see the team has been working on plenty of pressing drills. Bringing in Bruno would dramatically improve the effectiveness of our press. Slotting Bruno in as a central midfield partner to Thomas Partey would free up Thomas, and allow him to exhibit his adept box-to-box ability that was evident at Atletico Madrid. The stats don’t lie, and they’re here for you to have a look at for yourself:
That’s the thing; Bruno’s versatility enables accommodation of the best features of the other midfield players. Guimarães’ defensive abilities would allow Partey freedom in going forward with the awareness that there’s a brilliant defensive midfielder behind him to cover, or salvage any loose balls and create a goal-scoring chance himself. It’s all well and good talking about stats, style, profile etc. but we have to consider the difference in quality between Ligue 1 and the Premier League. The increased physicality, pressure, and roughness of this league would require some adaptation time. However, at only 23, he’s got scope for development and the club could afford to allow time for Bruno to acclimatise to the league. At 5”11 and nearly 80kg, he’s definitely got the size and bulk to succeed in the Premier League. He’s a bit of a thicc boi, and I mean that entirely in a good way. Then there lies the circumstances around his transfer; Jean Michel Aulas is as shrewd a negotiator as they come, and he’s a bit of a pain in the arse, if we’re being real. One thing to note – he’s an astute businessman, and the lack of Champions League football would’ve been a painful blow to OL’s purse. With rumours circulating around the reduced price tag on Houssem Aouar due to their financial woes, it seems inevitable that Lyon would let Bruno Guimarães leave for around his market value of £27 million (TransferMarkt.co.uk). According to Raisa Simplico, a reliable Brazilian football reporter, Lyon may be tempted by a bid of around £30 million for Guimarães. That sounds like one hell of a bargain to me. The very same source reported that Arsenal nearly signed Guimarães back in 2020, pipped to his signature by Lyon. He’s a player that Edu clearly likes; the two of them met in person whilst attempting to negotiate Guimarães’ move from Athletico Paranaense. It seems apparent that Bruno’s someone we’ve kept tabs on for a while now. Overall, Bruno Guimarães seems to be a brilliantly talented midfielder in all aspects of his game. He’s a threat going forward, a menace defensively, talented technically, and a beast physically. I’d love to see him at Arsenal this upcoming season, in the heart of that midfield alongside Thomas Partey. That’d be a formidable midfield partnership that’d rank amongst the best not just in the league, but also in Europe. For only £30million, it seems to be a deal too good to be true. But we’d be foolish not to try sign him. I’ve been Jahid and thanks for reading! I’ll see you next time round for more bad puns and interesting takes! Adios!