Should Leicester gamble on Arjen Robben?
Background image: Dom Fellowes, CC BY 2.0
A new chapter is dawning for Arjen Robben. Last Sunday, his celebrated career at Bayern Munich came to a sweet end when he left the Allianz Arena a hero. Injury issues, along with his increasing age, meant he was deemed surplus to requirements in Bavaria.
The time for change has come. In turn, he aims to finish his career where he received stardom. Indeed, a return to the Premier League is on the cards. Surely a general perception links him to opt for a top-four club? Not at all. Instead, Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester City prowl on the 35-year-old.
Now considering his age and injury history, the Foxes are taking a calculated risk. He’d be their most illustrious signing but at the wrong end of his career. However, the old dog still has some tricks up his sleeve. Not only is the flying Dutchman still an unpredictable specimen, but he’s also the player Rodgers needs as a beacon of inspiration.
Fatigue plays a big factor in the 35-year-old’s fitness. Rodgers needs to be wary of utilising him carefully to avoid injuries. Considering the luxurious talents they possess, the Foxes don’t need him every single game. He’ll be rotated to his benefits, making sure his contribution is most effective when most necessary. Although the flying Dutchman’s presence won’t only be a motivational factor inside the pitch.
Robben’s chances of staying injury-free in the heated Premier League environment are frail. Even weaker is his chances at finishing ninety minutes consistently. However, his rich experience can work wonders for the Northern Irish manager. The 35-year-old has won everything, performing superbly at the highest European level. He’ll integrate a winning mentality into the Foxes, revitalising their fearless attitude.
The Premier League is an old hunting ground for him. Granted, it has changed with the times since he ruled the roost with Chelsea. But the experienced winger is a much smarter man himself. Having lost that blistering pace which traumatised defenders, Robben’s changed up his style. He looks towards creating more for his team-mates, letting them do the running. Instead, he’s a more cunning goal-scorer now.
He’s accustomed to the slick, fast-paced attacking system which Leicester are deploying under Rodgers. Rarely does he attempt the vintage curlers anymore. Now he opts for using his intelligent movement to get more involved in games. He’s improved his creativity, finding space with incisive passes and inviting crosses. Robben is more well-rounded.
Even outside it, the experienced candidate will help improve his teammates' qualities. Strong character is something which gets Rodgers giddy. The former Bayern man breeds a powerful mentality, capable of reflecting similar confidence into his the dressing room. The younger players profit the highest from his potential arrival.
Harvey Barnes, in particular, can benefit. Despite his sparkling contribution in the Foxes’ second half last season, he still needs to improve in certain areas. Robben’s a perfect mentor for the 21-year-old, able to him into improving his composure under pressure. Barnes’ finishing ability can improve with some tips, while his final-ball delivery could also work some touchups.
Even the underperforming Rachid Ghezzal’s Leicester career would receive a kickstart. Somewhat similar to the former Bayern Munich star, he’ll inherit the tricks and trade of the Premier League from his knowledge. The Dutchman could improve his stability in the final third, tuning up his finishing ability. Ghezzal’s can tap into his inner Riyad Mahrez under the experienced winger’s tutelage.
Moreover, he could also reflect a positive influence on Ricardo Perreira or Ben Chilwell. Their crossing ability along with knack to penetrate through opposition defences should make strides with his tips. Regarding his own performance-level, Robben can take to Jamie Vardy and James Maddison’s fiery partnership to find back his own flame.
Robben’s not coming back to England for a vacation. The 35-year-old could’ve easily retired into the sunset. It’s his undying thirst for glory which has kept him going despite multiple setbacks. He’s coming to Leicester with a point to prove. If the wing-wizard conjures up his remaining magic, Premier League teams beware!