Arsenal Transfer Analysis: Marvin Martin
Marvin Martin, 23, Sochaux, Attacking Midfielder
Marvin Martin was born in the 14th arrondissement of Paris, of the 20 administrative districts – similar to the London boroughs. The ‘14th’ is about 5.5 square kilometres and contains the famous Le Santé Prison.
Martin was particularly small for his age as a young boy and grew up a supporter of Paris St Germain, unsurprisingly. As a 10 year old in 1998 he absorbed the carnival atmosphere and national coming together that hosting and winning the World Cup brought. Watching Didier Deschamps lift the famous Jules Rimet trophy, he described it as ‘the moment I wanted to become a footballer.’ Despite his dedication, the Clairefontaine academy rejected him due to his lack of height.
This article does not seek to provide an exhaustive biography of his road to becoming a full French international that Arsène Wenger considers to have the skills and resources to replace Samir Nasri, rather it merely provides the details to illustrate how hard Martin would have had to work to convince scouts and coaches he had the necessary resources to succeed. Eventually Christian Puxel, the man who discovered him said that despite the fact he was a ‘shrimp’ in stature, he had ‘game intelligence and anticipation of teammates’ movements.’
Currently, Martin has 111 games to his name at Sochaux with 10 goals and 24 assists. He has a contract until 2014 and wears the 14 shirt in homage to the arrondissement he grew up in. He is an attacking midfielder who plays out wide with the freedom to drift inside, similar to Samir Nasri. It is understood that contrary to initial views that Mata has long been Wenger’s first choice to replace Nasri – his first choice was Martin, who he believes to be a more cost effective signing.
He has excellent passing skills over long and short distances, hitting the ball with exceptional technique. He has the understanding of defenders movements to collect the ball in pockets of space and move quickly to hurt oppositions with a pass or a shot. He made a superb 15 minute debut appearance against Ukraine whereby he scored 2 and made 1. Overnight, his profile shifted completely to a name that is known across Europe as one of the top emerging playmakers. He left the Donbass Arena to be hailed predictably as the new Zidane. The iconic Zidane also scored twice on his international debut.
Ultimately, Martin is an extremely intelligent player with a big future. His being a target for Arsenal tells me that Wenger is not prepared to give up his project to turn Arsenal into a Diet-Barcelona. Unfortunately, the project basing our game on small technical players is unsustainable in a division as competitive and hungry as England’s. Arsenal forged a terrific fast-paced, entertaining format of play based on creative smaller players and it has not succeeded. Can Arsenal – within their budget – replace such talented playmakers as Fàbregas and Nasri with like for like players whilst still expecting to progress? Fàbregas has been a prodigy at Arsenal, but the current style is easy to play against.
Marvin Martin and our other diminutive playmakers, in spite of good workrate and effort, are going to need more ‘away-game players’ in their side to resist the vicious thuggery of our division to avoid being bullied. They need colleagues that can play in cold, rainy evenings and stand nose to nose with the giants at Stoke or Blackburn. They are going to need players who can handle holding the ball when the tackles are coming in too fast and dangerous. Van Persie is too lean and brittle a forward to be a target man to relieve this pressure, and Walcott too unreliable in possession due to a lack of maturity and concentration.
The signing would not unbalance the midfield provided a taller hard man in the vein of Yann M’Vila stood shoulder to shoulder with Alex Song in defensive midfield, allowing Wilshere to occupy the space left by Cesc. Knowing we had a stable and strong enough spine to support the team against an aerial bombardment or a brutal tackling display from the likes of a Lee Cattermole-lead Sunderland, I feel Arsenal would have the requisite variety to dominate league matches. For all his popularity, Frimpong is too raw for the job full time alongside Song (yet). For all his ball retention ability, Diaby is too injury prone and disappointing in big games.
Martin has Wenger-signing written all over him, and I agree he would be a good signing. However, I just have concerns that given the small stature of Martin and numerous other Arsenal players, the balance of the team would be continue to be ill-equipped to deal with the rigours of the Premier League which emphasizes games based on strength and power. The familiar technical style needs reworking to restore success at the Emirates.
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