Sunday, July 21, 2024

Jorginho set for new deal, and what it might mean for midfield going forward

Morning all.

Let’s start today with news via David Ornstein that Arsenal have offered Jorginho a new contract, with the expectation that the Italian international will put pen to paper on new terms.

This is an interesting one in the context of how we might be shaping up ahead of next season. Mohamed Elneny’s contact expires in June, and it looks fairly obvious that he will depart after eight years in North London. But I also think this deal might well tell us something about the club’s plans for Thomas Partey this summer. I have no information on that, it’s just a gut feeling, but it has always felt like either/or between the two veteran midfielders, and if that is the case, then we could make efforts to move Partey on when the transfer window opens.

I suppose it’s feasible we keep both, Partey could run down his deal and leave on a free, but in a summer when what we bring in could have an influence on what we spend, then is it time to try and recoup some cash for the Ghanaian international? He has come back into the side in the last two games, and helped us beat both Chelsea and Spurs, but has spent most of the season sidelined through injury.

For me, given he is set to turn 31 in June anyway, it would be risky – verging on foolish – to leave your squad in a position where you are in any way dependent on Partey. You could say that we’ve coped admirably without him this season as it is, the signing and influence of Declan Rice has consigned him to squad player status, and I also think that while he brings something a little different to midfield on his best days, there’s a trade-off with him in the team. That we become just a little more chaotic, more like a previous iteration of Arsenal that Mikel Arteta has worked hard to eliminate over the course of this season.

In the two games we played this week, our xG against was 2.42 v Spurs, and 1.68 v Chelsea. In the previous games against Wolves, Villa, Brighton, and Luton it was 0.17, 0.94, 0.53, and 0.34. Which isn’t to say this is all about Partey, nor that xG against is an exact science or anything like that. It could be more about the nature of London derbies than anything else, but when I have thought about what kind of midfielder Arsenal might bring in this summer, it’s always felt to me that Arteta would prefer a ‘younger Jorginho’. Someone whose style of play is much more aligned with the former Chelsea man, but with fewer miles on the clock and with a bit more zip in his legs and how he covers ground.

Perhaps the other aspect of this is a manager who seems to view availability as a key component when it comes to picking his team. Despite some little niggles here and there, Jorginho has made 35 appearances in all competitions. Partey has 13, with 1/3 of the minutes. If we were to sign a central midfielder this summer, someone in the 23-25 age bracket, it would ease some of the burden on Jorginho and cement his role as the experienced squad player for certain games and certain game-states. Which, at 32, he’s obviously pretty comfortable with.

I can’t help but think some other players who have been bit-part players over the course of the last little while, like Emile Smith Rowe and even Fabio Vieira this season, have fallen away a bit because they have had had periods of unavailability. And even when they are fully fit again, that plays a part in how they are viewed by Arteta. I could be wrong, but if they’re willing to offer Jorginho a new deal while at the same time choosing not to renew Partey, I think that aspect of things must play a part.

Time will tell, and what we do in the summer will be very interesting. The fact that Declan Rice’s role in the side isn’t quite as defined or ‘fixed’ as some thought it would be will be a factor. To that end, there’s a fascinating piece in The Athletic (£) where he goes through some of his games, some of the tactical nuances about his position in them, and what Arteta has asked him to do this season.

In fact, it’s so detailed in some places I wonder if the manager would have preferred for that information not to be out in the public domain, but I have to imagine this piece needed some kind of approval before going out. It’s well worth your time though, if you have the subscription, and copper-fastens my theory about the kind of midfielder we’ll be looking to bring in.

Ok, I’m gonna leave it there for. Have a good Wednesday, and we’ll be back tomorrow, probably with an Arsecast too later in the day, before we preview the Bournemouth game on Friday over on Patreon.

Bye for now.

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