Arsenal & The Age Curve: The Alexis and Ozil Replacements

At the start of the 2018/19 season, at least one of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil will likely be donning a new team’s colors. Despite the dent this will leave in the squad, the opportunity to start a shift in the squad towards youth must be taen.

The losses of Ozil and/or Sanchez will solidify the club’s standing as 6th best in the league, and the lack of quality past them will almost definitely force a lengthy rebuild. Such a rebuild will require the North London club’s star attackers to be replaced swiftly with promising, pre-prime attackers.

Such holes will be virtually impossible to fill perfectly, but a choice of two of these four men, or some of similar playing and/or age profiles would be a step in the right direction.

Florian Thauvin, Marseille, age 24

After his perceived flop at (absolutely dysfunctional) Newcastle United in the Premier League, Thauvin has been nothing short of exceptional back in France. He turns 25 in two weeks, so he’s on the older side of the names that should be considered, but his output more than makes up for it. He’s top 5 in expected goal contributions per 90 in Ligue 1, assists over 2 and a half shots per 90 and takes nearly four himself. He’s proven himself to be an exceptional player in a very good league, and should be the first name on the shortlist.

Malcom, Bordeaux, age 20

At only 20 years of age, Malcom is playing remarkably well for Bordeaux. He’s 18th in Ligue 1 in expected goal contributions per 90 (0.52) amongst players with over 700 minutes played, and that should only improve with a move to Arsenal and away from complete and utter freedom to fire off pot shots from distance. He contributes directly to nearly 5 shots per game, and is one of only 23 players to average at least 2 shots and 2 key passes per 90, and is younger than all of the others to do so. At 20 years of age, he’ll have multiple years of prime level output remaining when the rebuild should be completed, providing both a lengthened window and more margin for error in the coming years. David Ornstein of BBC Sport has confirmed the club’s interest in Malcom as a replacement for Alexis, which is a great sign for the rest of the retool.

Richarlison, Watford, age 20

Richarlison, like his compatriot, Malcom, is performing like a man many years his senior for a midtable club in a top 5 league. He’s taken over three shots per 90, and over two in the penalty area thus far in nearly 2000 PL minutes. This output, for Watford, at 20 years old bodes incredibly well for his profile going forward, especially given a move to a better creative club. A minor flag on his game is the relative lack of creative output, with barely one shot assist per 90, but shot volume like his at his age makes up well for it.

Nabil Fekir, Lyonnais, age 24

Fekir has recovered remarkably after a knee injury in 2015 cast doubts over whether or not he would live up to his massive potential. He’s contributed to over a goal per 90, directly contributes to over five shots per 90, and completes over 3 take-ons per 90. This absurd production would be a welcome addition to the club, and he would almost certainly jump at a move to the Emirates.





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