I don’t think I’ll ever get through a transfer piece without talking about Gladbach, unless of course they were to stop impressing me. Spoiler alert, they won’t. The fact that they currently top Champions League Group B, ahead of Real Madrid, Inter Milan, and Shakhtar Donetsk – Champions League stalwarts all – is a testament to their abilities.
But you’re not here for me to fanboy over my football-crush Friday team. You’re here for me to fanboy over their players. Well, asked and answered.
Starting from the back, Matthias Ginter and Nico Elvedi are rock-solid on a weekly basis. They’re both better on the right side, and Elvedi is a solid right-back as well, but the Swiss takes the left when they play together. They’re both Premier League-quality players, and at 26 and 24, still have room to grow.
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Stefan Lainer is my sort of right-back. He’s a balls-to-the-wall, aggressive player, who is as adept at whipping in crosses as he is at sweeping the ball away with a well-timed slide tackle. He’s also rapid, both over short and long stretches. He won’t be a long-term option at 27, but he’s a fantastic talent. If Arsenal do want somebody more offense-minded, 24-year-old Valentino Lazaro is a wing-back by trade, but often features at right midfield or right wing for them, especially against bigger opponents.
Their midfield is equally stacked. Denis Zakaria is one of the best defensive No. 8’s I’ve ever seen – no exaggeration – and is the only player in the world who could possibly replace what Thomas Partey brings to Arsenal. Imagine a midfield pivot of both of them.
Further forward, Florian Neuhaus is a near-ideal solution to our creative issues at No. 8. Tall, composed, and slick on the ball, his passing range is nearly limitless, as is the number of different passes he has in his arsenal. His vision is arguably his best asset, and he’s ludicrously good at finding the goal from outside the box, though his finishing is solid too. He’s a confident player in every phase of play, and isn’t afraid to delve into the grittier side of the game throughout the match.
And while 32-year-old Lars Stindl is their go-to option at attacking midfield, youngster Hannes Wolf, formerly of RB Leipzig, has made a name for himself as a super sub this season. A graduate of the Red Bull system, he was poached by Die Fohlen this summer, and has proven he can hold his own at the highest levels. 23-year old Lázsló Bénes is also a serious playmaker, and although he’s struggled for minutes this season, he’s a serious threat in the No. 10 role.
And who can talk about Gladbach without mentioning their front line. Strong, quick, and lethal anywhere in the final third, Marcus Thuram is everything we need and more. He’s everything I wish Arsenal had in a center-forward, to be quite honest.
He’s an aggressive dribbler, is strong as an ox, and is deceptively sneaky for a player of his size. He’s also an excellent header of the ball, something we’ll need if we continue with our current tactical setup. And his finishing is nothing short of magical. Oh, and did I mention he’s only 23?
Thuram plays most of his football off the left-wing, but is their first-choice striker when fellow Frenchman Alassane Plea is out of commission. 27-year-old Plea has been nothing short of lights-out this season. His five goals and two assists in European football alone this season are a testament to his ability on the big stage, and somewhat cover for his one goal, one assist record in league play.
Similar to Thuram, he’s an electric finisher and excellent header, but he also specializes in close-quarters link-up play, a major asset to any side who play with a focal-point No. 9, as we do. And as if that weren’t enough, 23-year-old Swiss international Breel Embolo is a regular feature all across the front line, sharing his minutes between No. 10, right-wing, and center-forward.
Lightning-quick at an imposing 6’1″, Embolo combines his stocky frame with impressive technical dribbling skill and astute finishing to create a monster of a player. He’s slightly rough around the edges, and lacks finesse often, but finesse can be taught. He’s aggressive, powerful, and has all of the mental characteristics necessary for a top player, namely his positional awareness.
Gladbach pretty much have a solution to every problem Arsenal are struggling with, and although our previous signings from the German side have had mixed results – cough Granit Xhaka cough – this new generation of talent is nothing short of spectacular.
But even if Gladbach aren’t the subject of our advances, any of these clubs would be a fantastic place to cherry-pick. They’re all rife with talent, just waiting for the right offer. Let’s see if Arsenal can reverse history for once, and be the club to make that offer.