Gilberto showed he still had some legs in the Brazil final against the US. The ex-Arsenal player is valued by Dunga for his defensive mettle and still gets regular call ups.
Now, he is attracting some attention with his plug for Felipe Melo, his Brazil team mate and Fiorentina’s highly rated holding midfielder.
“We heard rumours and he asked me,” Gilberto said. “I said it’s a fantastic club and if he’s interested, he should go without thinking.”
“He is exactly what they need – a powerful player with quality. If they got him it would be great because he is a player they need at the moment.”
A quality holding midfielder is amongst Wenger’s priorities. Yaya Toure can be taken of the list as he has reportedly signed a contract with Barca keeping him in the club till 2012. Wenger has had a long standing interest in Melo ever since his exploits at Almeria made him a Fiorentina target which he joined in 2008.
At 6’0″ and 172 lbs, Melo is a physically strong player. In Dunga’s scheme he is the second function midfielder, in between the more defensive Gilberto and the attack minded Ramires. In the Confederation Cup, we saw a player adept at tackling and tracking back. A Maicon free kick which set up Melo’s header against the USA in their group encounter showcased his set piece abilities. His long powerful strides eat up ground as he shows an appetite for end to end action. In his first season at Fiorentina he also collected 17 yellow cards and three reds showing that he is no soft touch.
There is evidence too of a player able to maneuver the ball in tight spaces and starting counterattacks with quick crisp passing. Plus, he brings a feature, the cracking long shot that regularly unsettled a goalie which disappeared with Patrick Vieira. I can’t remember too many in recent seasons till Arshavin’s explosion against Liverpool.
At 25 year of age Melo is older than the Arsenal newbie and brings in a fair bit of experience and maturity. In addition, his international career has taken off under Dunga who loves worker bee like players that seamlessly shuttle between defense and attack.
A sticking point is his price. He has a £17.9 million buy out clause, so Melo will not come cheap. With Dzeko’s transfer hopes fading, Milan might target Adebayor. Budget conscious Wenger hopes that the £25 million expected from his sale to pay for Melo should he come to Arsenal.