Having failed to address Arsenal’s gaping void in deep midfield during the summer, manager Arsene Wenger is reportedly preparing a bid for Newcastle’s Moussa Sissoko, according to no less a source than the Sunday Times.
The Gunners are back up to within two points of fourth place after winning 1-0 at West Brom, but look certainties for a season of struggle if new faces aren’t brought in during the January transfer window.
Jack Wilshere’s injury against Manchester United will keep him out of action for the next three months, meaning Wenger must depend on increasingly-unsuitable pair Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta, both of whom are on the wrong side of 30, in front of an ever-changing, rickety defence.
The problem was obvious during the summer, with Wilshere only begrudgingly moved back from a more attacking role since the start of the season, and the likes of Sporting’s William Carvalho, Paris Saint-Germain’s Adrien Rabiot and Real Madrid’s Sami Khedira were all touted for the Emirates.
Alas, no deal was done, but Wenger may be on to something if he does manage to wrest Sissoko from Newcastle’s grip for the relatively modest reported fee of £15m.
The 27-cap Les Bleus man plays most of his football further forward as an attacking midfielder, which accounts for his key-passes-per-game average being the third-highest among the Magpies’ regular starters this term, just behind Remy Cabella and Jack Colback.
In a squad full of flair players Sissoko completes more dribbles per match than any other and gets plenty of shots off, scoring once so far this term a fortnight ago to beat QPR 1-0.
What clearly appeals to Wenger is that the former Toulouse man marries these footballing skills with a strong physique; at 6ft2in and filled out, he’s not quite Patrick Vieira or Abou Diaby, but you get the picture.
Crucially, Sissoko featured in every match of Newcastle’s recent six-game winning run, starting five times, while former Gunners target Cheick Tiote recovered from injury.
It seems the Ivorian may no longer be the object of Arsenal’s affections.