Ruben Neves will fulfill Arteta’s ideas for much-needed Arsenal artistry, not Rabiot

When Mikel Arteta was named Arsenal manager he spoke eloquently about how he wanted to bring back the Arsenal DNA. Key to that would be the need for a perfect ball-playing central midfielder to set the tempo and orchestrate the play.

For all terms and purposes, it looked as if the man for that job especially when the manager confirmed that Manchester City had an interest in the former Arsenal captain. Arteta spoke glowingly of Xhaka and seemed to have given the indication that he will look to Xhaka and he is welcome at the club, despite a bust-up with the fans.

After a stellar performance versus Bournemouth by Xhaka in midfield where he got it going, following up a positive performance at Goodison Park a few days earlier. As if on cue to rub salt into the Arsenal fan’s eyes who were raving and ranting at how solid Xhaka had been. His agent José Noguera announced that his client had agreed on terms for a move to the Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin SC and that his client had informed Raul Sanllehi and Mikel Arteta of his desire to move. An hour or so later the Daily Mirror published an article proclaiming that Xhaka was unhappy with Mikel Arteta for publicly praising him but telling him that he is free to go behind closed doors.

Hence it came as no surprise when the press became to say Arsenal would look at Adrien Rabiot as a potential replacement for Granit Xhaka. BLICK the publication that broke José Noguera’s quotes stated that the Bundesliga club would bid €25m for Xhaka. That is the same figure Italian website mentioned the same €25m as Arsenal’s potential bid for Rabiot.

If it is indeed Granit Xhaka’s intention to leave and Mikel Arteta’s intention to replace him with Adrien Rabiot. I would caution against such a replacement and suggest that Arsenal look at Ruben Neves instead.

Ruben Neves has proven Premier League experience, it would be an understatement to say he has looked at home in the league. He quickly established himself as one of the league’s best central midfield, assisting Wolves to some stellar results against the top sides in the league. Including yesterday’s 3-2 win over Manchester City.

Ruben Neves as usually listed as a defensive midfielder, always seems to find himself outside the opposition box in the manner a box to box midfielder does. He is somewhat of a hybrid wwho is not afraid to go forward and start attacks while showing great maturity to be in place to cover the back four. Combine that with the amazing range and accuracy of his passing skill. Ruben Neves has great vision and an incessant desire to press his opponents and use his excellent distribution to help his side’s wide players launch attacks into the opposition third. Neves has also drawn praise from many football pundits for his technical, tactical and mental qualities, as well as his intelligence and long-range shooting ability.

Ruben Neves will be Premier League ready and there will be absolutely no growth curve for the player who will be replacing an experienced midfielder. There will also be no language barrier if Arsenal look at the Portuguese midfielder as a replacement for Xhaka. Ruben Neves is two years younger than Adrien Rabiot and he has four and a half years worth of top-flight experience and has played in the Champions League in each of his three seasons at FC Porto. Ruben Neves is a player who has a well-documented history of having leadership qualities as he has captained both FC Porto and Wolverhampton Wanderers. He has a better attitude than Adrien Rabiot who sat out most of last season at Paris Saint Germain to force a move away from the club.

Adrien Rabiot is a very talented player who had always been deservedly lauded for his performances a few seasons ago. Rabiot is known for his mobility, hard-working, quick thinking with the ball at his feet, and he is able to make late attacking runs with intelligent movement off the ball into the penalty box. He is also known as a composed passer, who possesses good link-up play and uses skill to create chances for his teammates.

Be that as it may, he is not Premier League proven and has struggled to nail down a starting berth at PSG and Juventus, which is by no means an easy feat, however that could mean that he’s a player who needs a manager to ease him into things and Arsenal have no such luxury.
Its off the field where speaking about Rabiot glowingly comes to an abrupt end, he has had so many scandals that someone under 26 shouldn’t have. Rabiot missed a cup final at PSG because he had arrived late to a team meeting, he turned down a new contract at PSG in 2014 and agreed to join Roma, before changing his mind and opting to stay at PSG.

He had a heated period in 2015 with former PSG manager Laurent Blanc when he had demanded a loan directly to the club’s President, to allow him to get more playtime a move that didn’t sit well with his manager. He also caused controversy when he declined a standby spot for the French national team at the 2018 World Cup. And to top that off his mother who is his agent has a reputation for making things hard for her son’s employers, by making some outrageous demands.

After securing a move to Juventus when his relationship with the powers that be at PSG he has featured in just twelve matches with a mere seven starts. In his final season at PSG, he made nineteen appearances before being frozen out by the club. In one and a half seasons a player of his caliber should not be racking up thirty-one appearances, is just unbelievable and should be a reason for Arsenal to steer clear.

Signing Rabiot would be mean bringing in a potentially volatile player who can affect the squad and this would counter any work the manager needs to put in rooting out the poor culture at Arsenal.

Stylistically Ruben Neves would be a better fit for the Gunners. This can be shown by a comparison between him and Xhaka in the EPL. See below.


Philani Mukwakwami


Sports are a hobby horse of mine, what happens in-between the lines is just as thrilling as what happens outside of them.