Amidst the usual drama around the transfer window, Arsenal has been linked with Algerian winger Yacine Brahimi on a free transfer. While most rumours tend to be created just for clicks, the Brahimi rumours seem more plausible given the current financial situation at the club. However, Brahimi is a player whom Arsenal should avoid signing – and here’s why
What do the stats say?
In 215 appearances for FC Porto, Brahimi scored 54 goals and recorded 43 assists. Over his entire career, the Algerian has 74 goals and 55 assists in 367 appearances. These stats are in the middle ground and represent a player who is neither very good nor particularly poor either. However, as we’ve seen in the past, statistics can be misleading.
The primary issue with Brahimi is that he has played in Portugal for the majority of his career. His stints in Spain with Granada and in France with Stade Rennais do not instill much confidence either with Brahimi registering just 12 goals and 10 assists for both clubs in 118 appearances. Perhaps the Algerian is just best suited for the level of the Portuguese league. The Premier League and the Primeira Liga are levels apart. While we have undoubtedly seen many sensational talents emerge from Portugal for the likes of Benfica and Porto, Brahimi’s stats at a top club in Portugal do not suggest that he can make a big difference in the Premier League.
Does it make sense financially?
A common misconception is that players on a free transfer make little to no dent in the overall finances of the club. This is frequently untrue, as very often the former club is also due a fee or the purchasing club itself has to pay an exorbitant fee to the player’s agent. The same was the case with Sead Kolašinac, who may have arrived on a free transfer but is on a seriously lucrative contract despite arguably not meriting the same.
Brahimi’s free transfer seems the type that would not affect the club’s finances too much. A lot of the wage bill has been cleared after the likes of Welbeck, Cech and Ramsey departed the club and the Algerian is bound to be on a mid-level contract if he were to sign. The issue with this transfer would be that it would put Arsenal through the vicious cycle that they are currently experiencing in that they are unable to shift ageing and average players. Brahimi is already 29 and if he were to sign a four-year contract, he’d leave for a free at 33. This would leave Arsenal with no room for a sale if the transfer does not work out. Furthermore, given Arsenal‘s tendency to overpay even the most average players, few clubs would be willing to match his wages and the player would not push for a move either. With the links to William Saliba and Kieran Tierney gaining momentum, this signing would defeat the purpose of building a youthful side.
How would he fit in?
Brahimi is a player who would fit in perfectly in Unai Emery’s side. Despite his low output, Brahimi is a hardworking and versatile player who would just about do the job for a Europa League level side. This is another issue. Arsenal risk cementing their reputation as just a top-six side if they were to sign Brahimi. It would represent a negative mentality that is focused on winning the Europa League to return to the Champions League rather than mounting a real challenge for a top-four spot.
The biggest criticism that can be levelled at such a signing is that it would block the progression of talented youngsters like Bukayo Saka and Reiss Nelson. Nelson is primed to have a very important season at the club and Saka’s talent warrants more opportunities. Spending needlessly on an ageing and rather average winger would just increase the sentiment that Emery is not one to build long term plans around.
Overall, Brahimi would represent a very Europa League-level signing. The Algerian cannot be expected to set the league alight if he were to join and even though he is available on a free transfer, is a very unnecessary addition to the wage bill. Arsenal would do far better to promote youth and give the likes of Nelson and Saka opportunities rather place any trust on Brahimi.