Arsenal’s desperation for a defensive-midfielder could not be more apparent, but Croatian anchorman Marcelo Brozovic should swerve a move to the Emirates in favour of Everton.
It’s difficult to envisage the 22-year-old not getting a game in north London given the club’s well-documented lack of a proven practitioner in this field, but a Goodison Park switch still makes more sense.
Here’s why it should be Everton – 9/20 to beat QPR next – the £6m man chooses.
The Toffees have a sterner defensive structure that will offer him more protection.
Arsene Wenger’s insistence that Arsenal can beat any foe home or away with the purist style he deploys week after week often affords opposing teams the opportunity to exploit spaces in midfield and leads to heavy losses.
As the Gunners’ smushings at Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and, indeed, Everton last term attest, this approach can leave obvious gaps to be countered by any proficient outfit.
In these big gun collisions, the defensive midfielder is expected to dominate the middle of the park.
Arsenal’s style means the holding-midfielder won’t get the protection and support to impose himself on the match, which will obviously reflect badly on the Croat.
Playing in a more disciplined unit, one that might sacrifice their principles on the road, will allow Brozovic the chance to showcase how strong a player he is in this position.
Everton boast a master of the holding-midfield craft who could ease Brozovic’s Premier League ingratiation.
Gareth Barry has consistently been one of the most effective performers in this role for several seasons and, despite his advancing years, is still one of the finest practitioners around.
Moving abroad for the first time is a difficult transition for any player to make and the intense, rigorous nature of England’s top-flight renders it even more so.
Being schooled in the art from a veteran of this pedigree would undoubtedly make the process easier.
Holding–midfielders who sign for Everton have a history of landing high-profile moves further down the line.
Thomas Gravesen, the unknown Dane who dominated several midfields in Toffees colours before moving to Real Madrid, offers the perfect example, but Mikel Arteta, Jack Rodwell and Marouane Fellaini have all benefitted from using Roberto Martinez’s men as a stepping-stone in recent seasons.