Several media outlets in Chile have reported the news that Arsenal have finally negotiated a £21 million fee with Juventus for acquiring the services of Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal. The same story has been reported by the Daily Express , who also claim that Vidal has agreed a five year deal at the Gunners and an announcement is imminent after the conclusion of Copa America next week.
The same outlets have also reported that Juventus are planning to sign Mehdi Benatia from Bayern Munich to supplement their defence. However, if we look closely, the two stories, once linked, do not make much of a sense. Why in the world would Juventus sign Mehdi Benatia for replacing a versatile midfielder like Vidal. Juventus already have two very good central defenders in Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini who look likely to be the first choice for at least a couple of years.
Even if you take into account that Chiellini is now into his 30s , they still have one of the best young center backs in the world in Daniele Rugani, who at 20, is already regarded as the future of the Old Lady’s defence as well as that of Italy’s, where he has been capped at each level up to the under-21s. The young Italian defender already has a couple of Series A seasons under his belt and looks likely to stake a claim for a first team spot next season.
Its true that the Bianconeri have already signed Sami Khedira as a free agent. But the fact remains that the German is more likely to be a replacement for the allegedly departing Andrea Pirlo, who is expected to move to MLS next season, rather than Vidal. Khedira , as a defensive midfielder, simply does not fit into Vidal’s role as a box-to-box midfielder. Hence, the Italian club will most likely be looking for another midfielder in the mold of Vidal rather than a center back as his replacement.
However , a likely explanation to this implausible chain of events comes in the form of Arsenal’s mooted interest in Daniele Rugani. It is highly likely that the Gunners are in the market for another central defender as Brazilian Gabriel Paulista is the only quality back-up for the pairing of Lorient Koscielny and Per Mertesacker. Rugani suits the bill perfectly as a young and upcoming talented center back and it is not improbable to suggest that Vidal is not the only one from the Italian club who might be joining Arsenal this summer.
Wenger has reportedly held a long standing interest and had apparently sent scouts to Empoli last season to watch the youngster in action. Similarly, Juventus’ interest in Benatia will make much more sense if we assume that they are likely to lose Rugani this summer. The Old Lady will be looking at Benatia to replace Chiellini who in turn will be a more than able back up.
Whatever way these stories pan out in the end , the developments will surely intrigue the Gunners fans waiting for the announcement of the Vidal deal in the coming days.