With the January transfer window open, Arsenal will try to do everything they can to add reinforcements. The Gunners have a shaky defense and need to find another central defender to pair with the highly-rated William Saliba. Although on loan, Saliba is the future for the north London club. Adding a talented center back, either this month or during the summer, to go alongside the young Frenchman should be a top priority. Listed below are five of the best (and somewhat possible) options at this position.
1. Presnel Kimpembe
Young, but still experienced, Kimpembe would be a fantastic addition to Arsenal’s back line. The 24-year-old center back would immediately add athleticism and could give the Gunners a duel passing threat at the position alongside Saliba. Kimpembe has an impressive 94% successful pass rate in league play this season and is good with both short passes and long balls.
With three other solid, young center backs, PSG could possibly be open to cashing in on Kimpembe. The Frenchman has also made just seven starts in Ligue 1 this season with the champions. Though overlooked at times with PSG, he could settle in nicely with Arsenal for years to come.
2. Samuel Umtiti
A few years ago it would have seemed impossible for Arsenal to sign Umtiti. Nevertheless, the France international is now reportedly up for sale by Barcelona, with the Gunners supposedly interested. The Catalan club have mostly opted for Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet and the center back position this season.
Although talent has never been in question regarding Umtiti, injury history is his only real limitation. Foot and knee issues have forced the Frenchman to miss 10 matches so far during the current campaign. The nagging knee injury even kept the defender out of 27 total matches last season. Going after Umtiti would be a gamble for the Gunners. Bringing in Alexandre Lacazette’s good friend could certainly give Arsenal a boost defensively, assuming he can stay fit.
3. Dan-Axel Zagadou
Not a regular starter at Borussia Dortmund until nearly December, Zagadou has quickly become vital for BVB. Big, strong, and versatile, the young Frenchman has been mostly used as part of a back three in recent weeks by manager Lucien Favre.
It would most likely take a lot of convincing (cash) for Arsenal to pry the center back away from Dortmund, especially with his prominence at the club growing by the minute. Nevertheless, Saliba and Zagadou know each other well, as they were teammates with the France U20s, and could form a dynamic duo at the north London outfit.
4. Dayot Upamecano
Linked with Arsenal for a while now, Upamecano is most fans/pundits first choice to pair with Saliba. Like Zagadou and Kimpembe, the RB Leipzig defender would also be pricey. A fee in the £40-£60 million range would likely be what it takes to secure Upamecano’s signature. Arsenal, however, aren’t the only team interested in the center back.
Barcelona are also said to be tracking the highly-rated defender, most likely as a replacement to the aforementioned Umtiti. If Barca do go after Upamecano, it could start a chain reaction of center backs changing places around Europe.
5. Nathan Ake
Possibly easier to obtain than the other players on this list, Ake would be an interesting signing for Arsenal. Valued at around £40 million, the Bournemouth defender already has plenty of Premier League experience. However, much like with Upamecano, the Gunners would have to fend off interest from another club (this time Chelsea) to sign Ake.
The Netherlands international may be a tad undersized and not exactly a high-profile player, but he would certainly help the Gunners defense. Ake is left-footed, a smart tackler, and a reliable central defender that rarely makes mistakes. Though a different type of player than Saliba, the Dutchman could be a good counterpart to the young teen.
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