Arsenal

ARSENAL REPORTEDLY PLOTTING A BID TO SIGN £35M MIDFIELD MASTER FAR BETTER THAN GRANIT XHAKA

While the critics are lining up to label Lionel Messi the biggest fraud since Charles Ponzi, another Argentine international continues to go about his business in the shadows, away from the unforgiving glare of the limelight. 

Leandro Paredes is hardly the biggest name in the Paris Saint-Germain dressing room. He’s not even the biggest name in PSG’s midfield. But if Kylian Mbappe is Les Parisiens’ swaggering Mick Jagger, all snake hips and style, then Paredes is their very own Charlie Watts.

The man who sets the tempo, lays down the beat and holds the whole song together.

Paredes was the unsung hero in PSG’s march to the 2020 Champions League final. For those who still doubt his influence, just watch his performance against RB Leipzig in that season’s semi-final. It was a masterful, metronomic midfield display. A crash course in how to manage a must-win game from a position of strength.

Paredes barely put a foot wrong that night, breaking the lines and controlling proceedings like a young Xavi.

Arsenal, in Monday’s 3-0 shellacking at Selhurst Park, were crying out for someone like Paredes. A press-resistant, playmaker capable of – and willing to – get his foot on the ball, keep it moving and instil some much-needed calm into a side who’s performance was reminiscent or someone trying and failing to bat away a pesky wasp in a summer beer garden.

That thumping loss at Crystal Palace certainly exposed the glaring faults in Thomas Partey’s game. You’d drain the battery on your calculator if you tried to keep tabs of how many passes the Ghanaian misplaced in South London. But could Paredes be the perfect foil for a man who recently judged his performances in Arsenal colours at a dismal 4/10?

It is no secret that Granit Xhaka came within touching distance of a move to Roma last summer. According to Gazzetta dello Sport, the Serie A giants are planning to renew their interest with a £15 million bid enough to do the trick, even if the prospect of Xhaka sharing a dressing room with Jose Mourinho feels like dropping a supermarket’s supply of mints into a bucket of fizzed-up Pepsi.

Partey time for Paredes?

And a Paredes-Partey partnership could certainly work more fluidly, more effectively than a Xhaka-Partey partnership. Paredes, after all, is far more adapt than Xhaka when it comes to dictating the play from that number six role, easing the playmaking duties on Partey’s shoulders while freeing him up to do what he does best.

Hassle, harry and hound down opposition midfielders.

“He’s a guy who can make very precise passes, very quickly,” former PSG boss Thomas Tuchel said of Paredes. “It’s his job to set the pace and speed up the game.”

Arsenal certainly needed a player like that as Partey and Xhaka trudged off, a chorus of Glad all Over ringing in their ears.