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Arsenal and Spurs are having very different seasons right now. The 2022/23 is one of the best the Gunners are having for quite some time now, having been in the title race from matchday one.

Spurs on the other hand are having one of the worst, sitting outside the Champions League spots after sacking Antonio Conte and appointing Cristian Stellini on an interim basis. What both these clubs have in common right now, is their lack of defensive quality. William Saliba and Gabriel have been exceptional at the back for Arsenal. Although ever since the former’s injury, the Gunners have been the shadow of themselves from earlier on this season.

They lack cover in the defensive area and hence the links to Swansea City’s Nathan Wood. The English centre-back joined the Welsh club in the summer of 2022 and is having a breakout season. Arsenal and Spurs have been linked with the young defender since his days at Middlesbrough but no concrete offer was ever made.

The 20-year-old might be key for both North-London clubs to take a step in the right direction, and FootTheBall analyses why the two Premier League big hitters want Wood in their ranks.

 

How good is Nathan Wood?

Swansea City’s Wood is a really talented and promising young centre-back with an excellent pedigree and exciting potential. Although he hadn’t quite managed to make that full step-up to regular first-teamer at Boro, he’s been on the periphery of that since his debut aged just 16. He’s an England youth international and comes through a Boro academy which has a rich history of producing Premier League quality centre-backs.

Now a regular at Swansea City and arguably their best player in the current squad, the English no-nonsense defender is attracting interest from the Premier League.

Nathan Wood stats

Wood was capped by England at the Under-15 and Under-16 levels before helping the Under-17s to the European Championship finals in 2019.

He made ten appearances in total for the 17s, captaining them on occasion, before making the step up to the 18s and winning a further nine caps including skippering the side to a 5-2 win against Russia.

His brief spell so far consists of just one season under his belt at Swansea City suggests that his stats are that of an average Premier League defender. With 52 tackles attempted with a success rate of 68%, it won’t be a surprise that clubs don’t jump in for him immediately.

 

Nathan Wood scout report

Wood is ostensibly a right-sided centre-half, playing more than most of his career at all levels in that position, but he has on occasion been deployed as a defensive midfielder and once on the right of midfield. His blistering pace – Wood has been described by former coach Jonathan Woodgate as “lightning quick” – is one of his strengths, once running the 100m in 13.07 seconds as a 13-year-old.

He is composed on the ball but freely admits that there are times when launching it up the park is a better option than attempting to play it on the ground in his own box, marking him out as an ideal centre-half and at 6ft 2in he will add a bit more height to the North-London squads.

Although he has more often than not operated as the right centre-back in a back four, he does have experience of playing in a back three and a back five – the sort of adaptability that Mikel Arteta appreciates – and is comfortable playing as a left-sided central defender as well.

 

Nathan Wood transfer news

The 20-year-old has been a key player for Swansea City, and he has made 40 appearances across all competitions for them this season. Wood is regarded as a prodigious talent with a big future ahead of him. His performances have been quite impressive in the Championship and it is no surprise that the top clubs are looking at him. Both Arsenal and Tottenham could certainly use more depth at the back and Wood could prove to be a quality long-term acquisition.

The 20-year-old central defender can also operate as a defensive midfielder because of his composure and quality on the ball. His distribution skills would certainly make him a good fit for clubs like Arsenal and Tottenham who prefer to build from the back. The player has a contract with Swansea until the summer of 2024 and the Championship Outfit could consider sending him in the summer in order to avoid losing him on a free transfer next year.

If he can fill out and gain more muscle in the next couple of years though, he can still absolutely reach his true potential. He’s big, but moves well for someone his size and as noted above, is really comfortable on the ball. He will need to cope with the physical aspect of the senior game better in the years ahead though, if he is to take his career to the next level. Particularly if he dreams of playing for big clubs like Arsenal and Spurs.

Arnold Lewis
A hardcore Chelsea fan, who is often found playing football on the weekends. He has an exceptional voice and his rendition of old Hindi classic songs will make your heart melt. He is the man with the funky hair.

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