Merih Demiral The Defender Arsenal Should Consider – Scout Report
Mikel Arteta’s appointment as Arsenal’s new manager will surely spark a flurry of activity in the transfer market this January as the new boss aims to resurrect a poor campaign and begin yet another era for the club.
Arsenal fans have been crying out for a new central defender for years and this must be a position of priority for Arteta. With names such as Dayot Upamecano and Nordi Mukiele on the rumour lists, a cheaper, yet very promising defender must be given time for a mention and that is Merih Demiral.
This scout report will analyse and break down the key strengths and weaknesses of Demiral and what he could offer Arteta and Arsenal.
Merih Demiral is a 21-year-old Turkish defender who arrived at Juventus from Sassuolo for around £16 million. He had made only 14 appearances for Sassuolo before Juventus swooped for him. He has featured for Turkey from U17’s all the way up to the Turkish first team, accumulating 11 caps. Maurizzio Sarri described Demiral as a defender who brings “great positive energy”, however with competition from more established defenders, such as Bonucci and Chiellini and big-money signing De Ligt, Demiral’s activity has been limited to a mere 5 appearances.
Under Maurizio Sarri, Demiral has only made 5 appearances this season, playing 482 minutes. Despite a lack of playing time, Demiral has shown promise and potential which justifies why Juventus paid around £16 million after only 14 matches. Demiral contributes on average 6.91 defensive duels per game, winning 76% of those. This is an impressive win percent given his lack of game time and ability to build up consistency through consecutive matches. In terms of aerial ability, again Demiral thrives. His 6ft 3in frame wins 75% of the 5.23 aerial duels he goes into per game. Demiral makes 1.12 shot blocks per game. This shows his innate ability to sense danger and disarm it.
Demiral is a player who Arteta would really enjoy working with given his preference to stay on his feet and use his pace and intelligence over making rash tackles. This is something which is lacking in Arsenal’s current crop of defenders. On average Demiral makes 0.56 sliding tackles per game opting to intercept the ball before needing to go to ground. This is shown with his high 4.29 interceptions per game.
Demiral is very much a modern centre half. He likes to play the ball and contribute to attacking phases from deep. With a pass accuracy of 95%, Demiral is averaging 58 passes every game. In a game against Udinese, Demiral completed 88 of 87 passes he made. Similarly against Lazio in a 3-1 defeat, Demiral completed 45 of his 46 passes. Of Demiral’s 58 passes per game, 17 are forward passes to teammates.. Another reassuring part of Demiral’s play is how assured he is in receiving the ball. His teammates on average find him 44 times during a game. In that very impressive match against Udinese, Demiral was passed to 76 times, he then executed 100% of his 29 forward passes in that game. One weakness to Demiral’s game is the number of long passes he makes. He has only executes 50% of 2.24 long passes he makes per game.
Contributions to build-up play
As previously mentioned, Demiral is very adept at passing the ball out from the back and is very composed in receiving the ball and maintain phases of play and ball retention. Demiral is also a player who enjoys being very involved in the facets of play. In Juventus’s 2-0 victory over Bayer Leverkusen, Demiral played a very progressive match. He contributed 55 passes, completing 89% of them, whilst also completing 2 of the 3 long balls he played. Demiral played 21 forward passes finding a teammate with 18 of these passes. He also attempted 3 dribbles with a success rate of 67%. Using his intelligence he made a personnel high (this season) of 10interceptions during the match and entered into 16 duels winning 12. He made another season-high of 15 ball recoveries with 1 coming in the opposition half.
In conclusion, Merih Demiral is a very holistic defender. He can be stone cold in defence, whilst maintaining composure and precision on the ball. If he was given the starting birth at Arsenal, he could quickly become and undisputed starter and would offer lots in attack and defence. Demiral would be a far cheaper alternative than Upamecano and Mukiele, however there are a few clubs eyeing the Turkish international and this may cause inflation in his price and wages. Should Arsenal get him however, he could form the spine of the team and dependent on how long it takes him to learn English (If at all any), he could become a leader and warrior for the team over the course of a long period of time.