Why Arsenal should not lose sight of signing Yves Bissouma
With Arsenal near to reaching an agreement with Anderlecht over the transfer of Albert Sambi Lokonga for a fee of around €18 million, it looks as if the club have taken their first step towards revamping our midfield. With the likely outgoings of Granit Xhaka, Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira, it is important to refill our central options and whilst acquiring Lokonga is a step in the right direction, it's far from sufficient rebuilding, and Arsenal should do everything they can to sign Yves Bissouma. Here’s why…
Love or hate him, you simply cannot deny the huge role Granit Xhaka has played at Arsenal, especially in the season just gone. The Swiss international played a total of 2,526 Premier League minutes out of a possible 3,420, and featured in 31 of 38 domestic fixtures as one of the key men in Mikel Arteta’s system. With Xhaka’s pending move to Roma edging closer each day, we need someone to fill that void.
Lokonga is an exciting prospect, but the step up between playing in the Belgian top division and in the Premier League is vast- and it is probably not advisable that we enter the new season with a 21-year-old, inexperienced, new player as one of our starting midfielders. Signing Bissouma would provide an immediate replacement for Granit Xhaka, and one who could slot in straight away whilst Lokonga is allowed to develop and settle in. Like Xhaka, the Malian midfielder was a mainstay in Brighton's team last season playing over 3,000 league minutes and featuring in 36 out of 38 games.
PREMIER LEAGUE EXPERIENCE
One criticism of Arsenal’s recruitment in recent years is that we fail to use the domestic market frequently enough, which can often produce a lot of talent. Maybe this is due to price or simply overcomplicated scouting whilst trying to outplay the market; it’s been a rare sight in recent years for Arsenal to sign a player from within the English leagues.
The main problem this causes is adaptation. Almost every player from a foreign league will, naturally, take a period of time to adapt to the physical and intense nature of the Premier League. This causes delays in the progress of the team, as a recent example of Thomas Partey’s slow first campaign proved through the 2020/21 campaign.
It also could be argued that some players simply don’t adapt to the Premier League. Even Xhaka, who was one of our better players last season, clearly looks to be a player who would thrive even more in a less fast paced league. What Bissouma offers is low risk, and high reward. We’ve already seen the level he has shown in the Premier League and his transition to adapt to Arsenal would most likely be seamless. Experience, even at his relatively young age, is invaluable for a team in Arsenal's position. We are in desperate need of players who can come in and are an immediate upgrade on what we have now, and Yves Bissouma is undoubtedly one such player who would elevate our team.
As well as his Premier League experience, Yves Bissouma has a plethora of desirable qualities as an individual. At just 24-years-old, he is the perfect balance of a player in a good stage of his career and yet one with many years ahead to improve and develop his role. With the age some midfielders play at the top level for, there is no reason why the Brighton star couldn’t be a mainstay in this Arsenal side for many years to come.
Bissouma is also a very well-rounded player; his excellent positional awareness has led to his tackles and interceptions numbers flying through the roof in the past few seasons. 5.03 tackles and interceptions per 90 reflect this, whilst his 3.37 tackles per 90 in the last year puts him in the 93rd percentile for all midfielders in Europe's top five leagues.
In possession, he is just as accomplished. On the ball he is calm, technically secure (87% pass accuracy) and has great distribution (4.53 progressive passes per 90). As the main man in the middle of Brighton’s side, he has successfully shown his ability to both recover the ball, evade the oncoming press, and recycle possession. Playing in a more dominating and possession-based side like Arsenal would allow Bissouma to show more of what he can do in building attacks and allow him more freedom when going forward.
Bissouma has the perfect balance of athleticism, defensive awareness and excellent technical ability, and these skills in synergy make him an incredibly attractive midfielder. It is also important to note that, as he has shown in his days at Brighton, Bissouma can play both as the single man in a pivot screening the back four, or as part of a double pivot as more of an 8. If we pursue the signing, he’ll slot in as Thomas Partey’s pivot partner- and the well-rounded skillsets of both midfielders will hopefully form a formable partnership in the middle of the park.
Signing Yves Bissouma has absolutely no negative aspects to it. I cannot see another player on the market in his price range that could offer us more in the very present and for years to come. With the player reportedly ‘desperate’ for a move to Arsenal, it seems obvious to me that he should be one of the players Arsenal look to sign this summer.
Premier League experience, incredible quality, and top-draw attributes. Time to bring Bissouma to N5.