One of two things is going to happen between now and the closing of the transfer window: one, we’ll sign a few more players. Two: we’ll be linked ad nauseum to signing a few more players. Arteta was quoted just the other day about continued ambition and investment, and, already, the rumours have resumed. With the club on tour in the US for the next week or so, new developments are unlikely, but the chatterati are talking up a move for Ajax’s Mohammed Kudus, a 22 year old who can play as an attacking midfielder, striker, and—wait for it—right winger.
Would Ajax be willing to part with two key players in one window? Kudus went for 18 goals and seven assists in 42 appearances. If past is prologue, the answer could be yes. Last season, they sold Lisandro Martinez and Antony to Man U (facilitated no doubt by former manager Erik Ten Hag) but also sold Sebastien Haller to Dortmund and Ryan Gravenberch to Bayern. Selling and re-investing seems to be part of their raison d’ê·tre. Given the warm relationship we have with the Dutch club, it’s plausible to believe that Kudus could be had for the right price.
Reports suggest that Ajax would consider parting ways with the Ghanaian for a £40m fee. Perhaps fellow Ghanaian Thomas Partey could be prevailed upon to do some, um, prevailing upon? Even if Partey has one foot out the door, he could have the time for one last crucial intervention, convincing Kudus that the move to the Arsenal would be worth it. There is also of course Jurriën Timber, who could attest to the warm welcome he’s received (even if the announcement of his signing was overshadowed ever so slightly by the announcement of Rice’s signing).
As for Kudus, he does seem to be another player in the mold that Arteta appreciates. He’s young, and he’s versatile. Across his twenty five Eredevisie appearances that lasted more than ten minutes, here are his stats:
- attacking midfield: two matches, 97 minutes, one goal.
- centre-forwward: ten matches, 544 minutes, five goals.
- right wing: 13 matches, 1125 minutes, five goals, four assists.
That last set should be particularly interesting, given how it tracks with Bukayo Saka’s production from the right. What’s more, Kudus might just be the kind of player who threads the needle between Scylla and Charybdis—good enough and promising enough to step up when called upon but not so good enough or full of himself to insist on a larger role.
That brings us to a tangential point or two. For as productive as Kudus has been from the right, he’s been almost as productive when played through the middle. We’ve seen how valuable Trossard, as a nominal striker who likes to drift out to the left, has been. Kudus could play a similar, parallel role as a nominal striker who drifts out to the right. In addition to adding layers of complexity and variety to our attacking options while also offering Saka some respite, signing Kudus could also offer us a tidy resolution to our Balogun/Nketiah quandary. Balogun is (or at least believes himself to be) too good to ride the bench and wants a larger role. Nketiah is probably much closer to having maxed out his potential. Neither one offers the tactical flexibility that Kudus can offer.
I’d say we sign Kudus at or around £40m. Sell Balogun and Nketiah for whatever we can get—maybe £60m combined? That’s just crazy enough to make sense!