Xhaka out, Neves in at Arsenal? How the pair compare

Robin Bairner
Robin Bairner 7 Jun 2021 19:39 BST 3 min read
Ruben Neves Granit Xhaka

Ruben Neves Granit Xhaka

Arsenal’s midfield could be set for a summer overhaul, with WolvesRuben Neves expected to replace Granit Xhaka.

Xhaka has had a rocky time at Arsenal since arriving in 2016, even being frozen out of the team for a period towards the end of Unai Emery’s time in charge.

He recovered to be a key player under the guidance of Mikel Arteta but finished the 2020/21 campaign shunted into a left-back role in order to fill the void left by an injury to Kieran Tierney.

Instead of being moved back into the midfield for next term, Roma are closing in on a move for the Switzerland international, with Neves expected to join Arsenal.

But how do they compare?

Granit Xhaka vs Ruben Neves

Xhaka v Neves 1

The biggest basic difference between the two players is that Xhaka is left footed and Neves prefers his right. Meanwhile, the Swiss is four years older at 28, in the peak years of his career while Neves at 24 is in all likelihood yet to reach his best.

In terms of their playing style, meanwhile, they are both very similar. According to SCISports’ data, they prefer to behave as deep lying playmakers.

Xhaka v Neves 2

Statistically, it was Xhaka who had the better season defensively. He made more ball recoveries, both overall and in the opponent’s half, and won a greater percentage of his challenges both in the air and on the ground.

Neves, meanwhile, won a greater number of tackles than the Arsenal man.

It was notable that Neves eclipsed Xhaka in the scoring stakes, netting five times to one. However, three of these arrived from the penalty spot. Given that Arsenal scored 18 of the 19 penalties they took in all competitions during 2020/21, this is not an area where they have had any significant difficulty.

Neves does, however, carry a greater offensive threat than Xhaka, having averaged almost exactly one shot at goal per 90 minutes more than the Swiss.

Certainly, playing left-back for a few matches at the end of the season will have skewed these statistics somewhat, and overall Xhaka and Neves remain statistically closely matched.

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