Could Nico Elvedi be the perfect defender for Arsenal?
Yet another name linked with Arsenal this week, is Swiss central defender Nico Elvedi. The Borussia Mönchengladbach player is available for a relatively discounted price due to his contract expiring at the end of next season.
Nico Elvedi is a 23 year old right footed, centre back from Zurich, Switzerland. The Borussia Mönchengladbach player, joined from FC Zurich in 2015 for £3.60 million. Elvedi has gone on to appear 158 times for Mönchengladbach in all competitions. He has mainly played as a centre back, accumulating 101 appearances, however has featured at left back 8 times and right back 43 times. Elvedi has 17 caps for Switzerland and 1 goal.
Elvedi is classed as a very technical defender and you can see this in his passing ability. This season in 2843 minutes, Elvedi has completed 93.8% of his 1753 passes. He has played a further 65 long passes with an accuracy 66.1%. Elvedi is very adept at playing passes through midfield into the oppositions half. The Swiss international has played 86 passes into the oppositions final third, with an 81.3% success rate. Elvedi tries to play forward when possible with 29.3% of his total 1753 passes being forward. These forward passes come with an accuracy of 88.3%, showing that he is more than happy to wait for the optimal time to progress the ball up the pitch. Elevdi is also very comfortable on the ball, receiving 1185 passes from his teammates this season. Moreover, he has only played 123 backwards passes, with an accuracy of 95.9%.
This season, Jonathan Tah has attempted 2582 passes with a 91.7% accuracy. This sheer volume of passes indicates him as one of Europe’s leading ball playing defenders. Tah has played a further 190 long passes, 125 more than Elvedi, with a 51.5% accuracy. Axel Disasi puts up similarly impressive ball playing numbers, making 1642 passes, with an 88.3% success rate. Disasi is also prone to a long pass, playing 192, with 53.6% being a successful. This clearly shows these three players all perform well and are of a certain quality on the ball, with Tah edging the other two.
Defending is Elvedi’s primary job and this season he has won 73% of 241 defensive duals. He has made 439 ball recoveries with 10% coming in the oppositions half. This ranks him 14 in the Bundesliga, averaging 13.77 per 90 minutes. Elvedi actually finds himself ranked 37th in the Bundesliga for counter pressing recoveries, averaging 4.82 per 90 minutes. Elvedi’s ability to effectively intercept should not go unnoticed, with him making 173 interceptions this season. Elvedi has made 21 sliding tackles winning possession on 12 accounts. At 6ft 2in, Elvedi is built well for aerial battles. He has won 51.6% of his 149 aerial duels in all competitions. Again, in the Bundesliga, he is ranked 20th for aerial duels, averaging 4.91 per 90 minutes
Tah at 6ft 3in (nearly 6ft 4in), has won 61.2% of his 129 aerial challenges this season. Disasi at 6ft 2in, has won 60.7% of his 168 aerial battles. This shows that aerial there is a weakness in Elvedi’s game and in comparison to Tah and Disasi, he is deficient. Regarding the comparison of interceptions, Elvedi does shade Tah’s 171 interceptions and comfortable beats Disasi’s 141. It’s clear that Elvedi prefers the game at his feet, like many modern defenders. Elevdi does outperform both Disasi and Tah with ball recoveries. Disasi has made 386, with 40 coming in the oppositions half, whilst Tah, again, has made 386, however with 76 coming in the oppositions half. This yet further enhances the slight contrast in defending styles of these players.
At Arsenal, Elvedi will need to be good on the ball and composed under intense pressure. His expected goals build-up per 90 minutes is 0.36, with the highest in the Bundesliga being 0.86. This means that aside from being good on the ball, Elvedi wants to help progress moves and be really involved in play. It would be very interesting to see how he would cope with intense aerial pressure which a Premier League club may look to put him under. His ability to read the game and defend a high line, will be unquestionable important, given Arteta’s philosophy. Out of the three players, the thing that will truly separate them, aside from price, is how they fit this Arsenal team. Can they defend that high line well? Are they efficient on the ball and can they read the game?
In conclusion, Elvedi would make a very sensible addition to Arsenal and could form a nice partnership with William Saliba in time. At 23, he has lots of experience in a strong league which runs many parallels with the Premier League. He also seemingly fits in well with Mikel Arteta’s favoured style. My only two real concerns are: is he comfortably being that leader next to Saliba or would Sokratis, Luiz or Mustafi be required to fulfil this role for a season until Elvedi became more comfortable; and would Arteta prefer a left-footer such as Disasi, to play that left-sided centre back position? A left-footer, whilst not vital, would offer better balance and ball distribution. But, in a market which is seemingly unpredictable, acquiring a quality player from one of Europe’s top five leagues with bags of experience for £25million, would be good business