Why William Carvalho Is Better Option for Arsenal Than Sami Khedira

James McNicholasFeatured ColumnistAugust 5, 2014

Ghana's Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu falls as he fights for the ball with Portugal's William Carvalho during the group G World Cup soccer match between Portugal and Ghana at the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia, Brazil, Thursday, June 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

With the transfer window just a month away from slamming shut, Arsenal are still on the hunt for a powerful midfielder. They have been linked with two outstanding candidates for the position: Sami Khedira and William Carvalho. 

According to Matt Law of The Telegraph, Carvalho is emerging as the preferred choice: 

William Carvalho, the Sporting Lisbon midfielder, could be Arsenal's next big signing because of increasing concerns at the Emirates over the wage demands and injury history of Real Madrid’s Sami Khedira.

Despite already spending £60 million this summer, Arsenal are still searching for a dominant holding midfielder.

However, it’s not just finances and physiology that could determine Arsenal’s decision. Although Khedira is the bigger name, Carvalho could be the better fit.

Excitement over Khedira’s potential arrival is understandable. The Real Madrid midfielder is a bona fide star of world football. This summer, he was a key component in the German side that went on to lift the World Cup. Only injury robbed him of a starring spot in the final.

However, he’s not necessarily the type of midfielder that Arsenal need most. Khedira is naturally a box-to-box player, as enthused by the prospect of bursting forward as breaking up the play. For Germany, he is occasionally deployed as the most advanced of the midfield three.

Ideally, Arsenal require someone more accustomed to playing a disciplined sitting role. They already have to find room for Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil in their central triumvirate. In order to have a balanced midfield, Arsene Wenger may need to identify someone more willing to sacrifice their attacking instincts.

That’s not to say that Khedira couldn’t mould his game to fit Arsenal’s requirements. Like all great midfielders, he possesses a great deal of game intelligence. With serious injuries increasingly taking a toll on him, he might be willing to set aside his attacking ambition and develop in to a more defensive midfielder. 

Carvalho, however, would require no such period of adaption. He is already a pure holding player. Although he began his career as a powerful No. 10 in the style of Yaya Toure, it did not take long for his coaches to spot his potential as a "pivote."

Armando Franca/Associated Press

Carvalho took to the role like a duck to water.

He has all the key attributes required to flourish at the base of the midfield. He is blessed with great reserves of upper-body strength, immaculate passing and perceptive positioning. He’s not the most eye-catching player, but that's primarily because his work is so tidy. He executes his job with the maximum efficiency and minimum of fuss. 

There are other factors in Carvalho’s favour, too. He’s five years younger than Khedira. His acquisition would come with greater residual value than that of Khedira, for whom this would surely be the last major move of his career.

However, it’s primarily his style of play that makes him so attractive. Khedira would require shaping in to the holding-midfield player Arsenal need.

Carvalho needs no such transition.

Despite his youth, he is effectively the finished product as far as deep-lying midfielders go. If Arsenal can land the Portuguese powerhouse, they could be on course to end their long wait for the title.


James McNicholas is Bleacher Report’s lead Arsenal correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here.