Argentina international midfielder Ever Banega has recently been linked with a summer move to Arsenal.
Various media outlets report that Gunners are attempting to lure the Sevilla man, adding that it was the Arsenal new boss Unai Emery who personally phoned Banega in attempt to discuss a potential move to the Emirates.
In the meantime, Sevilla midfielder was given his first start at the 2018 World Cup in Russia on Tuesday night. The 29-year-old put in a commanding display in Argentina’s 2-1 victory over Nigeria which saw Jorge Sampaoli’s men secure progression into the knockout stages of the tournament.
Argentina widely struggled to hit the ground running throughout the tournament. Sampaoli’s side were held to a 1-1 draw against resilient Iceland before being hit by a Croatian hammer in a 3-0 defeat.
They needed a win to secure their ticket into the elimination stage and showed great desire and motivation to break the spirited Super Eagles with Ever Banega playing an integral part in Argentina’s late win.
It was exactly Banega who assisted Leo Messi for the opening goal ten minutes into the game. The Sevilla star sent an inch-perfect 40-yard pass into the path of Barcelona wizard, who made no mistake from a close range.
Sampaoli’s decision to include the former Inter Milan flop in the starting line-up was widely praised as a touch of genius as Banega’s commanding presence allowed Messi to go further upfield and relieved him from his defensive duties.
With a firm grab of the anchor, Ever Banega was unleashing Messi forward with defence-splitting passes. Much has been made of Messi’s muted performances for Argentina but the general consensus was that the Argentine wizard lacked support from behind and a player who would be Messi’s creative companion at the centre of the park.
Banega completed over 100 touches during the Nigeria game. He made 90 passes and won four tackles which – alongside the assist – made him a key presence in Argentina team. The Argentine midfielder made three key passes in the victory over Nigeria, one more than Leo Messi and more than anyone else on the pitch.
4⃣ tackles won
3⃣ key passes
— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) June 26, 2018
The Sevilla star pulled the strings against Nigeria and took off a great share of the creative burden away from Messi who was free to concentrate on doing wonders for his team. A defense-oriented approach from tightly-packed Nigerians was not exactly a canvas to paint but Messi’s influence in the final third made a great contribution in Argentina’s 2-1 win in the end.
Lucidity and creativity Banega displayed against the African side was a joy to behold and a tantalising prospect for all Arsenal fans.
Heading into the new era with Unai Emery at the helm, the Gunners are hoping to get their name back on the European map as soon as possible. The former Sevilla and PSG boss is prepared to make some significant changes to the Arsenal team ahead of the next season and one of the players who could be the most notable addition to the squad is definitely Banega.
With Jack Wilshere already saying his goodbyes and Aaron Ramsey in Lazio link, Ever Banega could be the creative spark Arsenal need to unleash the attacking potential upfront.
Emery and Banega worked together at Sevilla, where they together won two Europa League trophies. They know each other very well and could once again link up to help Arsenal rise back to their full international prominence.
The Europa League specialist Unai Emery will be expected to lead Gunners to glory next year and the London-based club has already been installed as a 7/1 favourite to claim the title, which would also guarantee a place in the Champions League a year after.
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