Add Leandro Trossard to the long list of potential Arsenal replacements for Santi Cazorla. Emile Smith Rowe and Fabio Vieira have been among those tipped to play the deep-lying playmaker role Cazorla once made his own, but Trossard is arguably the most intriguing option.
Converting a winger into a No. 8, albeit a left-sided one, would be quite the conjuring trick from Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta. He could ask Trossard to attempt the metamorphosis, based on the Belgian's vision and both-footed brilliance.
Arteta indulged his experimental nature by dropping Trossard into a central role for the 1-0 win at Brentford on Saturday, November 24. The results were solid, although hardly spectacular, but Arteta stopped short of making a comparison with Cazorla:
"I have to see Leo take a corner with his left foot. When he does that then maybe! He’s so good but Santi was something special."- Metro's James Goldman
Cazorla's a tough act to follow. Just ask skipper Martin Odegaard. Yet, Trossard could be of more benefit slotting into the position Kai Havertz has struggled to make his own.
Arteta's £65m man is back among the goals, but he's not having the influence Granit Xhaka had as the left-sided eight last season. The problem is how demanding the role can be in Arteta's system.
Arsenal still struggling to replace everyman Granit Xhaka
Last season Xhaka was Arsenal's everyman. He functioned as a fellow enforcer alongside Thomas Partey, as well as an extra runner in forward areas.
Xhaka's attacking roamings often gave Arsenal a man over in the final third. His presence made it difficult for teams to man-mark Odegaard out of games.
In amongst his many other roles, Xhaka still needed to be a hub for possession. It was a lot to take on, and Haverz has chafed under the weight of the myriad of responsibilites.
Trossard could be different because he's a tireless runner who's decisive with the ball. That decisive streak usually leads to end product in attacking positions, like when Trossard helped himself to a hat-trick of assists at Fulham back in March.
It's easy to see how effective Trossard could be if he patrolled central areas more often. At least in central spots higher up the pitch.
The question is would the 28-year-old recycle possession as efficiently as a true No. 8 should? If he's going to try, Trossard should consider a player Arteta is already familiar with as his ideal template.
Bernardo Silva the ideal template for Trossard's eventual role
Arteta was on the coaching staff at Manchester City when Bernardo Silva began quietly adapting into the irreplaceable cog in the Pep Guardiola machine. Silva went from inverted winger to occasional No. 10 to somebody comfortable running games from deeper.
Now, Silva plays wherever he's asked. Position is almost meaningless for a player whose influence is obvious all across the pitch.
Silva dominates because he ticks all the boxes. He can thread a through-pass between the lines, play give and go in confined spaces, deliver from wide areas and even chip in with the odd goal.
A terrific example of Silva's ability to evade danger and keep the ball moving came during City's enthralling 1-1 draw with Liverpool.
Being able to use both feet equally well is the key to Silva's versatility. It's also a quality Trossard shares, according to one of his former coaches at first club Genk, Micehl Ribeiro, per Nick Wright of Sky Sports:
"I think he is right-footed and left-footed. That's a big key for us, working on both feet. You see it with Leandro but it's the same with Carrasco, De Bruyne, Origi. They are all perfectly two-footed"- Michel Ribeiro
Trossard has the makings of another Silva, but he has more value for Arteta as a jack of all trades than a master of one. The Arsenal chief needs Trossard as credible cover for wingers Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka, the most dynamic attackers in the squad.
Arteta has even used Trossard as a false nine, a useful ploy given primary striker Gabriel Jesus' struggles to stay fit. Arsenal can get more use out of Trossard as a roving answer to any problems up front.
There's another concern about making the former Brighton man an eight. Namely, how focusing on safer possession could blunt Trossard's natural leanings to create chances.
His forward-thinking mindset was summed up by this "key pass ratio" provided by WhoScored.com last season.
Arteta can continue to experiment, but he'll surely want to get Havertz up to speed first, before committing to a centralised Trossard.