Max Meyer is the Player Arsenal Need to Replace Cazorla
Shortly after the January transfer window closed, stories popped up that Arsenal were interested in signing Schalke 04 midfielder Max Meyer. Prior to the end of the window the German international had refused to sign a new deal with Domenico Tedesco’s Hoffenheim. This left him free to begin negotiations with any potential suitors before the end of the season.
He’s attracted a lot of attention with Liverpool, Tottenham and us all interested in. So who is this guy and why is he attracting so much attention?
In 2009 Meyer signed on with Schalke from Duisberg. Four years later in 2013, he made his debut for the Royal Blues versus Mainz where he got an assist. Only a few weeks later and still at the tender age of 17 he made his Champion’s League debut against Galatasaray.
Immediately billed as the next German wunderkind, he failed to live up to the hype that got him a call up to the German National team at 18.
Before Tedesco arrived at Schalke, he was used primarily as a number 10 or as a false 9. Needless to say things weren’t working out well for him and he was an inconsistent starter.
Enter, Domenico Tedesco. It’s under the ‘Laptop Coach” wonder, that Meyer truly found his calling and grew into a role he didn’t think he was capable of playing. On Monday we explored (albeit briefly) Tedesco’s creative tactical mind. He saw something in training that his predecessor, Markus Weinzierl either didn’t or chose to ignore – his work ethic.
“When the reaction is like Max’s, you think as a coach and say to yourself, ‘Man, I have to reward him,’” he said at the time. “‘It can’t be that he runs four or five miles in training and then misses the games.’ Then, as a coach, you’re forced to be creative.”
The move has been heralded as he has gotten more and more game time, starting more than any other midfielder for Tedesco and his play has impressed the Schakle hierarchy. Schalke’s sporting director Christian Heidel. Had this to say:
“He is playing the best season of his life, and the coach has found a position for him that Max didn’t believe he could play,” Heidel said. “Personally, I didn’t think he could either.”
Bundesliga.com (where a lot of the information for this article was sourced from) called him the heir apparent to Xabi Alonso in the league. For Arsenal, we could see him as the potential replacement to Santi Cazorla.
He plays at the base of midfield pentagon Tedesco employs and with his ability to retain possession, he finds himself pulling the strings for his side. It allows Schalke to retain possession better and also gives him the ability to initiate the counter-attack from his role as the midfield pivot.
What we’ve missed at Arsenal since Cazorla’s long-term injury took him away from us is someone who can act as that link between the defense and midfield. Someone who can effectively make that first pass from deep that can effectively negate the opposition’s high press.
Tactically this season we are seeing Arsenal pressed off the ball and without a suitable transition from deep we’re forcing bad passes which keeps us deep in our own end and under intense pressure – often resulting in goals.
If you watch any video of Meyer from this season, you see a player with excellent vision that finds a way out of tight situations. His profile on the ball is almost identical to Santi’s that when I first started watching him I swore I was watching the same player.
His passing is effective and his link play has brought out the best of his midfield partner Leon Goretzka. His 89% pass completion rate through 23 games is equal to Santi Cazorla’s last full season with us 2014/2015 where he played 37 games.
We sorely need someone who has the same flair and vision Cazorla has and Max Meyer could be the man. Without the injured Spaniard we just aren’t able to control the game like we used to. There is no fluency in our play and the predictable nature of how we play makes us easy to defend against.
Even if Santi should miraculously return to Arsenal (something I doubt), he’s not going to be the player he was when he was last fully fit for us. At 22 Meyer is filled with promise and represents the type of player we used to love having in our midfield.
The biggest problem will be the battle for his services. Do Arsenal have the drawing power to thwart off Liverpool, Tottenham and quite possibly Bayern Munich who signed his midfield partner Goretzka already.
It has been amazing to see how this kid has grown, especially under Tedesco (my personal choice to replace Wenger.) He is being touted as the best number 6 in the Bundesliga and that’s no small feat for his age. He’d be the perfect signing for Arsenal and let’s hope the addition of Sven and Raul lead us to landing him in what will surely be a battle.