Former Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen has finally left the Gunners after making 150 appearances and scoring 15 goals. However, the writing has been on the wall for a very long time when it comes to the Belgian leaving and no-one is really surprised.
Despite the loss that comes with it, Wenger has admitted that signing another center back before the end of the transfer window is a priority for the Gunners. Even Arsenal legend and central defense supremo Tony Adams believes that the Gunners need to strengthen their back four.
“Defensively, I think it’s going to be a huge loss. I put them [Arsenal] down as third before Thomas went. Thomas goes, you’re struggling to get in the top four.” Adams explained BBC Radio 5 Live.
Not that arguing with ‘Mr Arsenal’ himself is something many would suggest, but I’m sure some may say that selling Vermaelen was a good bit of business. £15 million for a injury prone, 28-year old centre back who is in last year of contract and doesn’t have a chance of dislodging either Per Mertesacker or Laurent Koscielny from the middle of the defense sounds like a bargain.
With Arsenal now flexing their financial muscle this summer, plus an extra £15 million in the bank, we take a look at who ‘Le Professeur’ might bring into the squad to challenge for places.
If Kostas Manolas sounds familiar then it’s probably because you remember him from last year’s Champions League. The 23 year old Greece international has slowly but surely made a name for himself in the Greek league while playing for AEK Athens, and more recently, Olympiakos.
The first thing many people will notice about Manolas is that he has an absolutely incredible leap on him. When it comes to attacking and defending set pieces he would definitely be an asset for any team. He also reads the game quite well and he’s got enough pace to keep up with Robin Van Persie, and although RVP is far from a speed merchant, he’s still outpaced quite a few defenders in his time.
EDER ALVAREZ BALANTA
This Colombian powerhouse is well-known to those who spend hours playing Football Manager. However he’s no Freddy Adu or Darijo Srna. He looks to be the complete package. At 5’11½, he’s shorter than both Koscielny and Mertesacker, but what he lacks in height he makes up for in speed and athleticism.
Balanta has an outstanding leap, is very strong so is unlikely to be muscled off the ball and can also read the game well. He’s ability to play at left back and his ball playing abilities are similar to that of Thomas Vermaelen, but he’s got less big game experience than the Belgian. He can certainly fill in for Mertesacker or Koscielny in the smaller games and with enough experience he could turn into something more.
Purchasing Daniel Agger from Liverpool may sound like a good move to some fans, however there are a lot of variables that hinge on how good a move it actually would be. We all know what the Dane brings to the table. He’s a solid defender who has Champions League experience, has won trophies in his career and, on the odd occasion, can turn up with an absolute cracker of a goal.
It really depends on how much Liverpool want for him and if he has a clean bill of health. He can be an asset but what’s the point in getting rid of one injury prone player just to bring in another?
If you’re a fan of the Bundesliga, then you’ve seen plenty of Neven Subotic. The Serbian has really made Borussia Dortmund’s defense his own over the last few years and, while others have left, he has stayed and helped the club stay as close to the top of the division as possible.
He’s not the fastest of players, but like Mertesacker, he reads the game exceptionally well and seems to be almost a step ahead of his opponents. Despite being 25-years old he’s got a ton of experience as he’s won the Bundesliga twice and has played in a Champions League final. He’s a winner, a leader and would give some added quality to the team.
Arsene Wenger and Spanish prospects seem to go together like peanut butter and jam these days. The Frenchman always seems to be the on the lookout for talent in La Liga and there’s no doubt that he’s cast his on the 23 year old Spain international at some point.
Sure Spain didn’t exactly light up the World Cup, but there’s no doubt that they’ve still got quality players with the likes of Inigo Martinez in their back four. He’s a persistent centre back who pressures attackers closely, much like Koscielny does for Arsenal now. He’s also quite a technically gifted centre back who has an eye for goal. It would be an interesting purchase for Wenger and might cost him a bit of money too, but that doesn’t seem to stop him these days.
Of course, it would also be interesting if he took a centre back from the Arsenal youth team and bled them into the team. Ignasi Miguel has looked quite good whenever he’s got a chance in the first team and looks to be quite a threat on set-plays, while there have been some rumblings regarding the potential of Isaac Hayden too. Regardless of what he chooses to do, Arsenal cannot hope to win anything with just two trustworthy centre halves so a decision must be made and made swiftly.
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