Which players would be the best replacements for…

Tor-Kristian KarlsenJune 22, 2023, 9:00 a.m. ET8 minutes of reading

How would Kai Havertz fit in at Arsenal?

Craig Burley dissects where Kai Havertz would fit in if he were to complete a move from Chelsea to Arsenal.

A number of players from Europe’s top clubs could leave in the transfer window this summer, but who would be perfect to replace them? We break down some of the best options available.

Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (US)

Central midfield
Thomas Partey/Granit Xhaka >> Amadou Onana, Everton

Arsenal intend to carry out a major midfield reshuffle this summer, with both Partey and Xhaka set to move on. The arrival of Chelsea’s £67.5 million ($85.8 million) Kai Havertz should add creativity and goal threat in the final third, with reports suggesting he will take up a No. 8 role, essentially replacing Xhaka. Then the potential £100m-plus signing of West Ham’s Declan Rice would ensure a stabilizing presence deeper in midfield, or as a box-to-box option, in the same vein as Partey.

But the Gunners need someone to fill both roles and give them extra depth. Their failure to land Brighton’s Moises Caicedo has seen the club turn to other options, such as Southampton’s Romeo Lavia, but Everton’s Onana could be a fantastic addition.

In a struggling Everton side, the 21-year-old has yet to display the constructive aspects of his game to their full extent, but his ceiling for development is high. At 6-foot-4, his physical presence, aerial dominance, ability to scramble, press, intercept and bring the ball forward make him an exciting prospect if lined up with more creative midfielders.

Defensive midfield
Sergio Busquets >> Martin Zubimendi, Real Sociedad

Replacing one of the most influential midfielders of his generation in a similar role is difficult to achieve, so some tactical adjustments may need to be made. Newly arrived veteran Ilkay Gundogan could theoretically take on many of Busquets’ jobs, but at the age of just 24, Zubimendi has already shown enough to suggest he can shoulder the responsibilities for years to come.

Works as a loner turning point in The Right‘s midfield, where he covers large areas to enable the attacking midfielders to shine, has proved an ideal learning curve and Zubimendi has embraced the task. He protects the ball well, rarely loses possession, and while he doesn’t register the 60+ passes per game match from the former Barcelona legend, he moves it on with effortless rhythm. The progressiveness of his passing has improved year on year (89% accuracy per 90 minutes) and is combative and consistent in everything he does.

Xavi is a big fan, but whether Barca can find a way to afford his €60 million release clause is another matter.

Edouard Mendy >> Mike Maignan, AC Milan

Despite missing almost half of last season through injury, Maignan has enhanced his reputation as one of the best goalkeepers in Europe and is now France’s No.1.

The most striking aspects of the 27-year-old’s skills are his mental alertness, tremendous athleticism and spectacular reflexes. On many occasions he will save his team through well-timed, assertive interceptions and instead of simply knocking the ball out of play, he can break away from pressure with neat footwork, bold bodywork and soaring confidence.

His steady feet and vision also allow him to distribute from the back with fine precision. Having won two league titles in two different countries, he has more than enough experience to compete with Kepa for Chelsea’s goalkeeper role when Mendy travels to Saudi Arabia.

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Roberto Firmino >> Dominik Szoboszlai, RB Leipzig

While it is almost impossible to find a direct replacement for Firmino – the high-scoring No.8-and-a-half / “false No.9” hybrid is a rarity – the Brazilian’s positive passing and consistent goalscoring will be missed.

Argentina World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister was an excellent signing (especially at £35m) from Brighton, but the services of such a tactically adaptable midfielder may be needed for a deeper role at Anfield.

However, Szoboszlai is capable of finding space further up the pitch and whether the 22-year-old cuts in from the left or picks up the ball in more central areas, he is exceptionally adept at creating chances through quick combinations with team-mates.

His exceptional set-pieces and powerful shots make him a regular threat on goal – he has scored 20 in 91 games for Leipzig so far – and although he has been linked with a move to Newcastle, he would surely flourish under Jurgen Klopp. According to reports, the Hungarian international’s €60m release clause expires. at the end of the month, leaving little time to maneuver.

David de Gea >> Diogo Costa, FC Porto

While no transfer comes with 100% guaranteed success, the Portuguese international goalkeeper is a fairly safe bet at around €70m. Having progressed through the national youth teams, he has taken every challenge in his stride and just finished his second season as an undisputed first choice for Porto.

Costa already appears as the complete goalkeeper; his reflexes are excellent, he moves quickly in all directions and reads the game expertly — both in terms of anticipating danger and quickly feeding passing lanes using feet or hands. Furthermore, the 23-year-old has attracted attention for his penalty saves during the recent Champions League campaign (three in a row) and has saved a remarkable 11 in his relatively short career.

Something that will attract United if De Gea leaves at the end of his contract is the fact that Costa’s distribution from the back is also assured. He is able to locate passes into central areas, even with his weaker left foot, and find the runs of his full-backs with cunningly measured deliveries. And he can still develop further.

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Neymar >> Xavi Simons, PSV Eindhoven

With Neymar’s future at PSG hanging in the balance, securing the return of Barcelona’s La Masia graduate Simons – who spent three years at the club before leaving for PSV on a free transfer last summer – seems a no-brainer.

PSG would only have to spend €6 million to bring the 20-year-old back due to a return clause in his contract, a fee significantly lower than his actual market value. And on the back of a sensational season with PSV, where he scored 22 goals in 48 games, he has proven he has the skills to impress in Ligue 1 now.

Simons is more of an attacking midfielder than a Neymar-esque forward, but both float seamlessly between the lines and – through flair and technical brilliance – are experts at moving the ball forward and unbalancing the opposition through dribbling and one-mods. .-one.

Karim Benzema >> Goncalo Ramos, Benfica

Since Madrid’s preliminary pursuit of 100 million € for Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane seems to be going nowhere and the eternal €150m. € links to PSG’s Kylian Mbappe also appear to amount to nothing, one of the most desired centre-forward playing machines in world football remains open now Benzema has left for Al Ittihad in Saudi Arabia.

Given the lack of striking options available to the plethora of elite clubs in a similar situation to Real Madrid, it is surprising that the spotlight has not shone too brightly on the 21-year-old Portugal international. Ramos’ 46 goals in 106 games for Benfica have ensured the club will demand a fee in the region of his €120m release clause, but historically they are willing to trade their best players for the right transfer fee.

Ramos burst onto the global stage at the 2022 World Cup with a hat-trick against Switzerland and it is the active, energetic nature of his game that makes him so exciting. Quick, mobile and with continuous sharp movements off the shoulders of defenders, Ramos averages more than three shots per game. 90 minutes. While most of his goals come from close one-touch finishes, he can also improvise and find practical solutions further out.

Spanish striker Joselu has arrived at Madrid on loan to add depth, but the Spanish giants need more up front and have had success with a dynamic Portuguese striker before.

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