Morgan Schneiderlin to Arsenal is going to be one of the summer transfer sagas, no doubt, with the midfielder set to be linked with a move to the Emirates from Southampton pretty much every week.
The same train ran last season as well, with Tottenham also in the mix, but is looks like in this campaign, it will be just Arsenal, with Schneiderlin reportedly wanting to play for a Champions League club. Manchester United and Chelsea have also been linked with a move in the past, but not quite as heavily as Arsenal.
Arsenal have reportedly held talks with Southampton over a move for Schneiderlin, according to ESPN, even if the North London club are yet to make an official offer. The Saints are reportedly expecting a minimum of £25 million for the 25-year-old.
Schneiderlin has been one of the standout players for Southampton, ever since their promotion to the English Premier League, and there is absolutely no doubt that the France international would strengthen the Arsenal squad.
But then, do Arsenal really need Schneiderlin? Francis Coquelin has been an absolute rage since breaking into the Arsenal side in late December, with the Gunners going on to win 17 of their 22 matches he has featured in.
Twist it and flip it however you want, there is no denying Coquelin has been a major reason behind Arsenal's tremendous form since the turn of the year. The Frenchman keeps it simple, makes those interceptions, puts in the tackles when necessary, ensures his back-four are not too exposed, and keeps those passes nice and easy to keep the ball moving along, just the way Wenger and his playmaking players like.
Now, Schneiderlin is not your typically ball-winning, keeps-it-simple defensive screener; so there is room for him in the side even with Coquelin now cementing his place in the starting XI. But then, Schneiderlin is also capable of playing that role, and what Wenger cannot afford to do is leave himself too thin in the defensive department.
If Coquelin gets injured, Wenger needs to have a readymade, equally-quality option. Mikel Arteta has struggled with injury for much of this campaign, and the Spaniard's legs certainly don't work the way they used to. Mathieu Flamini is also winding down his career, and if Coqeulin suffers an injury which keeps him out for a considerable time – this is Arsenal after all – then Wenger needs to have an option.
While Schneiderlin is more box-to-box than a defensive specialist, the Frenchman can easily play in the deepest role, as he reads the game really well and is not shy on making a tackle either. In the big games, Wenger can also play both the Frenchmen – Coquelin and Schneiderlin – in deep midfield just to shore up that defence a little bit more.
However, the question then will be, if spending £25 million on a player far from assured of a starting berth is sensible. Wenger rarely spends big money unless he thinks it will immediately make the team better, and with Coqeulin playing as well he has, there is a major decision to make for the Frenchman.
But then, quality midfielders, be that defensive or a little more forward-thinking, don't really come on the cheap, and the other men to be heavily linked with a move – William Carvalho and Ilkay Gundogan – will be quite expensive as well. The fact that Arsenal are reportedly considering a swap deal involving Joel Campbell going to Sporting Lisbon for Carvalho might not be a bad idea, and the Portugal international is a more defensive-minded midfielder than Schneiderlin. Gundogan, however, is not, and the same questions arise if Arsenal sign the Borussia Dortmund midfielder, who has not quite found his best form since recovering from a long-term injury.
Carvalho can also play as a centre-back if necessary, which is an added bonus, but Schneiderlin comes with bags of Premier League experience, which means the risk-factor gets reduced considerably.
Wenger said he has had to re-evaluate his summer plans following the form of some of the players in Arsenal's terrific run; but one thing is for certain, cover, and a quality one at that, is essential in the defensive midfield department.