Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Mikel Arteta given nine reasons to complete Arsenal’s Romeo Lavia transfer in midfield overhaul

Arsenal are looking at Romeo Lavia as a potential midfield recruitment this summer. The Belgian international impressed with Southampton last season and a buy-back clause in his contract that Man City can activate in 2024 has sparked some early interest.

With Declan Rice the priority for Arsenal, Lavia acts as further reinforcement to the team. Mikel Arteta wants his side to be better prepared for the return to Champions League action this season.

 

At just 19 years of age, Lavia remains something of a prospect, but his regular featuring in the Southampton team last season has provided plenty of evidence why sides like Arsenal would be interested. His performance at the Emirates in the 3-3 draw late in the season displayed his ability against a top side like the Gunners.

Furthermore, compared to his peers in Europe’s top five leagues, his metrics demonstrate some impressive technical and defensive abilities. FBRef provides the overall view of Lavia’s profile and the areas of his game which stand out, but also the work Arteta will have to target in terms of his improvement.

In the positive columns initially are Lavia’s defensive contributions. Firstly, it is important to consider that Lavia’s participation for Southampton in a relegation battle were sure to provide plenty of opportunities to demonstrate his talents.

He ranks in the 96th percentile of midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues for blocks, 86th for shots blocked and 91st for passes blocked. He manages to beat Thomas Partey in terms of blocks per 90 (1.9 > 0.94) and interceptions per 90 (1.34 > 1.01).

In terms of ball recoveries, Lavia ranks in the 83rd percentile and 78th percentile for tackles in the defensive third. Interestingly, his ability to draw fouls highlights how adept he is on the ball at outwitting opponents.

He ranks in the 89th percentile of fouls drawn, 1.95 per 90. Arguably more impressive is how Lavia sits in the 91st percentile of penalty kicks won by midfielders.

What this shows is not only furthering his skill on the ball to keep the ball away from opponents but also how regularly he progresses forwards and in and around the box. It is inside the box where he needs to be a greater threat though.

He is in just the 8th percentile of non-penalty goals, the 14th for total shots and the eighth for assists. He ended the season with one goal and just one assist after 35 games.

In terms of creativity, he also needs to develop his game. He ranks in just the 21st percentile for shot-creating actions and the fourth for expected assists (xA). Arsenal will need their midfielders to offer an offensive threat and with further development of his characteristics in north London he’s got the potential to shine at a higher level.

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