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£343m release clause: Arsenal could sign Gvardiol 2.0 in swoop for “extraordinary” gem



Arsenal have one final headache that they may want to rectify before the transfer window slams shut, as Mikel Arteta scrambles for additional funds to soften the blow of Jurrien Timber’s injury.

Who could replace Jurrien Timber?

With less than a week before deadline day is upon the Premier League, it would be easy to assume that much of the Gunners’ business had been tied up. If not for the crushing blow sustained by Timber, that may well have been the case.



However, with reports suggesting that the Dutchman is set to be out for up to seven months, having sustained an ACL injury in his first league start, a replacement could be in order to ensure that the levels do not drop.

That could therefore explain their interest in Barcelona defender Eric Garcia, who has impressed for Xavi’s title-winning outfit since moving from Manchester City.

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However, as if to emphasise just how highly-rated the Spaniard is at the Nou Camp, the Catalan giants slapped a mouthwatering €400m (£343m) release clause in his contract to ward off potential suitors.

How good is Eric Garcia?


It is worth noting the quality of this 22-year-old titan can be measured by those whom FBref seek to compare him to, with Pep Guardiola’s new signing Josko Gvardiol one of a few elite names to grace his ‘similar players’ list.

The Croatian moved to the Etihad earlier this month in a move worth £77.6m, joining with a big reputation as one of Europe’s best young defenders. In fact, his national team boss Zlatko Dalic has even suggested he is already the “best central defender in the world”.

Barcelona’s Eric Garcia reacts

So, to see Garcia likened to such a highly-rated star speaks volumes for his level, which has seemingly risen since returning to his homeland.


After all, he did feature 32 times across all competitions last season as they claimed the La Liga title, with his 6.92 average Sofascore rating a solid figure. This was largely buoyed by his 91% pass accuracy alongside the one tackle and 1.4 clearances made per game.

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In fact, when compared to other centre-backs across Europe, the youngster actually ranks in the top 3% for passes attempted per 90, the top 1% for progressive passes per 90 and the top 3% for progressive carries per 90, via FBref.

To see him lauded by Xavi should therefore come as no surprise, as the Spanish coach noted: “Eric is extraordinary. I value him a lot, he is important to us. He plays in a very complicated position because, at Barca, a centre-back is always exposed. But he is a role model in the dressing room and we value him a lot.”

To place him beside Gvardiol, it quickly becomes clear where these comparisons emerge from.


Indeed, when compared against the same group the former RB Leipzig star also ranks in the top 1% for passes attempted 90, as well as the top 18% for progressive passes per 90 and the top 9% for successful take-ons per 90, all per FBref.

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As a couple of tactically astute young ball-playing defenders, set to dominate at the top level for the next decade, perhaps Arteta could seek to bring in his compatriot to plug his Timber-shaped hole and emulate the success of their rival.


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