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Why Arsenal’s pursuit of Europe’s best passer is a big mistake

| 12.05.2014

With 722 total appearances for one of the biggest football club’s in the world since 1998, it’s fair to say that Barcelona’s Xavi is fairly comfortable in his surroundings. Yet Arsenal are among a trio of Premier League clubs trying to prise him away.

The Gunners, along with both Manchester clubs, have been linked to the 34-year-old Spaniard despite the Catalonia native still having two years left on his Blaugrana contract.

Although Xavi is the best passer in Europe, bringing him to north London for the 2014/15 campaign, which they are 9/1 to win, would be a mistake on Arsenal’s part.

Barca’s record appearance maker attempts 88.4 passes per match on average and is successful with 93 per cent of them – which is the highest mark for any midfielder on the continent.

Naturally, those stats align the Spaniard with a move to Arsenal but, as Mesut Ozil’s arrival at the Emirates shows, plucking a supreme ball-player from one of the other top divisions in Europe and plonking him into the Premier League can take time to reap rewards.

Ozil, like Xavi, lauded for his ability to pass the ball, certainly did make an instant impact in Arsene Wenger’s side following his switch from Real Madrid but soon became the subject of debate derision.

A hamstring injury ruled the German out for most of March and April, but even before that setback, his manager chose to keep the creator out of the side due to a lack of form.

The lack of a winter break and intensity of the division are likely to be two causes for the dip but at 25, has time on his side to learn, adjust and improve.

Xavi’s advancing years mean he doesn’t have such a luxury and it’s quite likely that Arsenal could splurge a lot of cash in wages for a one-season wonder that fails to live up to his illustrious reputation.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.