Arsenal: Granit Xhaka & Christian Eriksen Swap Soils Strategy Logic

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 30: Granit Xhaka of Arsenal applauds after the Premier League match between Manchester United and Arsenal FC at Old Trafford on September 30, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 30: Granit Xhaka of Arsenal applauds after the Premier League match between Manchester United and Arsenal FC at Old Trafford on September 30, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images) /

Arsenal have been offered a swap deal with Christian Eriksen and Granit Xhaka.

There is always some good craic when the rumour mill starts churning out transfer stories. Reading through the speculation with a fine-tooth comb, supporters can make their own judgements on how legitimate the source material is. Arsenal have got a fun one here.

A story emanating out of Italy suggests that Arsenal have been proposed a swap deal in January with Inter that would see Granit Xhaka and Christian Eriksen swap places. While unspecified, it’s likely to be a permanent deal.

Coming out of Italian publication Corriere dello Sport, the well documented and outspoken disappointment of the Dane stems from a lack of playing time in Milan. In and out of the team, Eriksen has only completed 90 minutes twice during his Serie A stay, this despite him coming up on a year spent with the club.

Throw in the addition of Thomas Partey at Arsenal and Xhaka’s omission from both of the last Premier League starting lineups, and the story has snowballed into a media frenzy.

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The newest updates contradict such statements, as FCInterNews decree that Inter will not welcome any swap deal and want at least what they paid for Eriksen last January up front. However, Arsenal are said to have Eriksen as their ‘third choice’ creative midfielder.

So, what do we make of this? Working on the basis that the swap deal is in the pipeline, that is.


A playmaker, who was among the best in Europe during his time at Tottenham, for a holding midfielder much-maligned since his £35m move? Don’t do that?

Indeed. Don’t.

Firstly, regarding the legitimacy of the speculation, it comes across as too far-fetched an idea with boundless variables needing to unite in harmony. Is it out of the question? Never say never, but it’d be hugely surprising if it came off.

Yet, on the off the chance it does and it’s being considered, the recruitment department would need to be asked some serious questions. Let’s unpack.

Antonio Conte is after Arsenal midfielders
MILAN, ITALY – DECEMBER 10: FC Internazionale coach Antonio Conte (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images) /

What Would Inter Gain?

Inter have tracked Xhaka in the past. Antonio Conte‘s ideal midfield addition would be N’Golo Kante, but dreams of the World Cup winner are likely to remain as just that.

Marcelo Brozovic is among the best defensive midfielders in the country, his place firmly cemented in the team. Xhaka is unlikely to knock him off his perch, but in the cases where he’d play, the five-man midfield Inter utilise would suit his style.

For Switzerland is where Xhaka excels, sitting deepest of the three central midfielders and able to use his distribution to shift his side across the pitch at the tempo of his choosing. In the much slower Serie A, where pressing isn’t as demanded in high areas of the pitch, he’d fit like a glove.

Still, they have Brozovic, with Arturo Vidal, Nico Barella, Radja NainggolanMatías VecinoStefano Sensi and Roberto Gagliardini already on the books as central midfielders.

Arteta has Arsenal problems
LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 08: Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal (Photo by Andy Rain – Pool/Getty Images) /

What Would Arsenal Gain?

On his day, Eriksen is a fine footballer, but he hasn’t shown that during his time in Italy as the fractured relationship between himself and Conte persists. There was a decline towards the back end of his Spurs spell where his form dipped considerably, many pointing to a lack of care and desperation to depart.

That slide has continued in Serie A. Can we expect that to be overturned if he returns to London? Perhaps, and if Arsenal can be beneficiaries of that Eriksen then he’d add a creative spark the team sorely lack.

He’d also be put on every dead ball. No more corner or indirect free-kick induced fury.

But, Why is This Deal a Bad Idea?

A lot of reasons.

Beginning with Arsenal, Xhaka leaving would constitute two things:

  • A loved member of the squad who is widely considered a leader within the group, a degree of authority and experience would depart north London.
  • In terms of personnel, we’d be left with Partey and Mohamed Elneny as the sole holding midfielders, who as it appears, are first choice anyway. Does that mean Mikel Arteta would be playing Dani Ceballos as the starting Europa League defensive midfield option?

Moving on, there is a transfer strategy in place at Arsenal which is only in its infancy. Partey and Gabriel Magalhaes joined to strengthen the spine, the former coming in as a ready-made elite player with at least five years at the top left in him. No risk attached.

Eriksen is knocking on the door of 29, in wretched form and on wages of £260k-per-week. Willian already joined on stupid wages and will earn them for three more years – the plan in place has to be looking at the long-term.

We already know it is with the pursuits of Houssem Aouar and Dominik Szoboszlai, who are both 22 or under, so deviating from that mindset while also losing a key member of the squad at the halfway point of the season bears no logic.

Furthermore, Xhaka, having just turned 27, is an asset Arsenal can’t relinquish for free (in regards to a fee). The Swiss doesn’t appear to be in Arteta’s thinking further down the line, and if an acceptable offer comes in during the summer he’d likely move on.

He’ll have two years left on his deal by that time and wouldn’t be short of suitors. Why few came in for him last January was the result of form and him, y’know, doing that and not playing.

Not a long-term figure in this side, his time will come to be shifted. Considering straight swapping him for Eriksen though – in January – will only further cripple the club’s already diminishing finances. Arsenal could easily be left with another Mesut Ozil-esque scenario of a player unable to make it into the first team but collecting hefty wage packets for little involvement.

Would Eriksen fit in this team? Where there is a will there is a way, but he’s also not suited in a 4-3-3 and hasn’t featured in one at either Spurs or Inter.

Tactics, however, are a different topic, because the recruitment department can’t take easy route towards solving the creative crisis this January.

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