Granit Xhaka – Arsenal’s missing puzzle piece?

Unlike last summer when Arsenal fans were left frustrated with the lack of transfer activity, Arsene Wenger has moved quickly this time around to bolster the squad ahead of next season.

The acquisition of Swiss midfield enforcer Granit Xhaka has been confirmed by the North London club in a deal believed to be worth up to £35 million.

Much of this fee can be covered by the fact Arsenal made over £100 million from television revenue in 2015-16, providing the club the financial boost to sign players that can lead them to the title next season.

With Xhaka signing a five-year deal with the Gunners, the Switzerland international is expected to play an important role for the club for years to come, and the early next season betting at LeoVegas and other bookmakers already has Arsenal in the top three teams challenging for the title.

But what can he bring to Wenger’s men?

Since the days when Patrick Vieira dominated nearly every midfield battle he entered, Arsenal have lacked a leader in the centre of the park.

With Wenger’s preference for technical players over those boasting physical capabilities, the North London side have often been over-run when not in possession and bullied in the 50-50s.

Arsenal have looked to remedy this in recent times, with Francis Coquelin adding muscle and Mohamed Elneny bringing industry to the the team from the centre of midfield.

However, despite the inclusion of these two more mobile and physical players, the Gunners still lack a player of Vieira’s stature, presence and inspiration.

Xhaka could well fill the void.

The Switzerland international is a no-nonsense operator that has thrived in the rough and tumble of the Bundesliga, playing a critical role in Borussia Monchengladbach continually overachieving.

Xhaka is a player that can dominate not only the physical side of the boiler room action, but someone with the leadership qualities to inspire others and demoralise the opposition.

The former Basel midfielder is also more than capable on the ball, has good reading of the game and has plenty of international and Champions League experience despite his young age.

Wenger should strike while the iron is hot and sign two more players – a new centre-half and a world-class striker. From there the title is ours.

Euro 2016 Tickets: The most and the least expensive games to attend

With domestic action completed for the season and just the Champions League final to play, all eyes are turning to Euro 2016 in what promises to be an exciting tournament in France.

Fans from all over the continent and further afield have been planning their itineraries meticulously over recent months – with much depending on access to tickets.

Uefa’s ticket portal has delighted and frustrated supporters in equal measures, with tickets to all the games available.

With this process now having run its course, online websites have punters looking to sell unwanted tickets to recoup or make money.

French website has compared the prices of the respective tickets to buy online, with some fascinating results.

As expected the competition final in Paris on July 10 is the most expensive game to potentially attend, with the cheapest available ticket coming in at a whopping €879.

England’s highly anticipated clash with British rivals Wales is next on this lucrative list, with the minimum price available for those that want to go to the game in Lens a cool €429.

Understandably, both semi-finals, two quarter-finals and the opening fixture between France and Romania are all in the top ten most expensive games.

Interestingly, two Belgium games are also listed, with their clash with Republic of Ireland the third-most sought-after game at a minimum price of €368.

With Marc Wilmots’ men’s clash with Sweden also highly priced, there appears to be a lot of Belgian fans on their way to neighbouring France and hopes are clearly high that their golden generation of players can reward them with glory.

At the other end of the scale, some tickets are still available for games at an extremely affordable price.

Of the ten least expensive games to attend, Northern Ireland’s match-up with Ukraine in Lyon tops the list with a minimum spend of just €31.

Michael O’Neill’s men will enter a major competition for the first time in 30 years, with the country’s Green and White Army set to follow them across France.

Russia’s clash with Slovakia, played on the same day as the in-demand England vs Wales clash, is the next most affordable at €41.

For those looking to take in some live action, the likes of David Alaba, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic are available to watch at the respective stadiums for less than €50.

Finally, although Wales fans will have to shell out considerably to watch their side face England, the most affordable ticket for their clash against Slovakia in Bordeaux on June 11 comes in at €68.


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