Looking at Arsenal right now it’s clear to see that there are positions where they need to improve.
The Gunners have spent more than any other team in the Premier League this summer by bringing in Martin Odegaard, Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White, Albert Sambi Lokonga and Nuno Tavares, but their squad is still a long way off competing for the Champions League places their ownership claim to want to be in.
Mikel Arteta’s squad have clear deficiencies in several positions, and one of the areas where this is most pronounced is at right back.
With their latest piece of business though, it looks like they are set to fix this.
At time of writing the Gunners have four right back options on their books in Calum Chambers, Cedric, Hector Bellerin and Ainsley Maitland-Niles, although none of them are really capable of doing what Arteta wants.
With Kieran Tierney’s aggressive forward runs such a key part of Arsenal’s attack the Spaniard wants someone on the other side who can counteract this by drifting infield.
The thinking behind this is to offer more passing options in possession and defensive cover for the counter attack out of it.
Most frequently it has been Bellerin who Arteta has asked to do this, but the 26-year-old’s strengths lie more in getting forward to overlap the winger and football.london understands that he is travelling to Spain to complete a medical ahead of a move to Real Betis.
Despite being an Arteta signing, Cedric is also someone who likes to get into the final third rather than moving into midfield.
Chambers found himself given plenty of game time towards the end of last season due to his ability to drift infield, but the England international’s poor start to the season has been cause for concern.
Perhaps the player most suited to the role is Maitland-Niles due to his time as a central midfielder. The 24-year-old appears to have fallen out with Arteta though, and has his heart set on a move where he can get more regular game time with Everton interested.
This is why the Gunners are keen to secure their sixth signing of the summer before the transfer window closes at 11pm on Tuesday.
football.london understands that they are in advanced talks with Bologna over Takehiro Tomiyasu for a fee believed to be in the region of £17million.
The Japan international is a versatile player who is capable of playing centre back or right back, but actually started his career in central midfield.
He is extremely comfortable on the ball and it’s this ability that saw him offered a place in Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy when he was younger, only to turn it down due to his inability to relocate to Spain at the time.
In his own words the 22-year-old is someone who looks to build attacks for his team from deep.
“Even though I play as a central defender, I also like to build up attacking plays from the back, by making the first pass,” he told Serie A’s YouTube channel earlier this year.
“My strengths are that I can play with both feet, and that’s something I’ve developed even more since playing for Bologna.”
The stats back this up with his progressive passing distance per 90 (330.94 yards) ranking him up in the 77th percentile among full backs in Europe’s top five leagues as per fbRef.
Interestingly it would seem that this is the kind of signing that would allow Arteta the chance to get closer to the way he wants his Arsenal side to play.
The Spaniard has previously expressed a desire to have his team transition towards a 4-3-3 system one day, rather than the 4-2-3-1 they have used for most of his reign.
“We want to move to a 4-3-3 but for that, you need a lot of specificity in every position but now in five or six positions, we don’t have it,” he told DAZN last year.
The specificity he mentions there is in part referring to having players who are comfortable on the ball in more central areas of the pitch.
Tomiyasu offers this and could help the Gunners to transition into the next phase of Arteta’s long term project at the Emirates.
The 22-year-old is also exceptionally disciplined and hardworking for his team, meaning that he is capable of providing that all important defensive cover Arteta wants when Tierney goes forward.
On top of that he is also very effective in the air ranking in the 99th percentile aerial duels won per 90 (3.50) among full backs in Europe’s top five leagues. This would potentially cover for Ben White who looked to struggle in this department in his Premier League debut against Brentford.
It should be said though that the Japanese international is not a silver bullet who will be able to fix all of Arsenal’s problems.
His arrival into the side means that the Gunners are as likely as ever to be almost wholly dependent on their left hand side to fashion creative opportunities.
The tactic of giving the ball to Kieran Tierney and hoping one of his crosses can cause damage has made Arsenal a very easy side to defend against in their opening three games of the Premier League season, and Tomiyasu’s tendency to drift infield means that is unlikely to change.
It will also be interesting to see how he operates with Ben White on the right side of defence given that the two players are of very similar profiles and tend to take up similar positions on the pitch.
But his expected arrival is a continuation of a raft of summer signings that indicate a playing style that the Gunners are trying to strive towards at the moment.
Whether Arteta can get them there after such a poor start season though, remains to be seen.