19 games in, 6 clean sheets kept. In all competitions this season it has been evident that Arsenal’s defence is not even a mere shadow of what it was last season. Has there been a failure to capture the required signings? Did we go into the season with obvious, gaping holes? Well it all started in the summer when Thomas Vermaelen. Carl Jenkinson and Bacary Sagna departed. Arriving was French international Mathieu Debuchy, a right-back who immediately caught the eye after filling into Sagna’s boots as if they were his own. Also arriving was 19 year-old Calum Chambers, a hot-prospect from Southampton’s youth set-up. Finally, Hector Bellerin was promoted from youth level to cover the right-back spot.
It looked to be a good summer in terms of transfers, just a little short in defence and defensive midfield. Now, 19 games in, long-term injuries to Mathieu Debuchy and Laurent Koscielny it looks a completely different story. The jaded Per Mertesacker looks like the Per of old; slow, incapable of getting goal-side, unable to jump, whilst Nacho Monreal is filling in at centre-back. These costly blows have struck our season into the plummets we all didn’t want to witness. Sitting 6th in the Premier League on a measly 17 points, Arsenal need recruitments, and Arsenal need them fast.
The transfer market is difficult these days. The ever-present dominance of the media portrays thousands of leaked stories and rumours each day, making the market a lot like gambling. Are this team actually interesting in this player? Have they tabled the £30million bid the Sun reported? If we submit interest, it will be publicized and our targets will be scouted by others. The hocus-pocus isn’t too much of an excuse for Arsene Wenger though, often too stubborn to realise his problems. Claiming that there are a short service of centre-backs on the market and that everyone is in the same predicament in buying one just seems like one big lousy excuse. Arsenal crave two centre-backs in my opinion, a young, promising cover defender, whilst a platinum leader needs to be brought in, someone to take charge and change our game completely.
1. Fabian Schär
This highly regarded youngster has been playing at the top of his game for a couple of years now. Only just 22, the Swiss international has all the qualities Arsenal desire, making him a suitable candidate for the role of ‘squad defender’. Schär wouldn’t start every week, but he’d certainly average 20 games a season with the injuries we get, and his quality shows he is certainly capable of doing so.
Currently playing for FC Basel in Switzerland, Schär has made his international debut and Champions League debut already, showing a certain toughness in character at such a raw age. He’s a few years off his peak, and what better league to hit it in than the Premier League. 6ft 1″ in height, his dominance and aerial presence is something we lack in the likes of cover-man Nacho Monreal. He’s physical too, brilliant at intercepting and challenging for the ball in tight situations, this makes him a highly, sought-after individual. He’s not shy of goals too, scoring 9 in his total 56 games for the Swiss club, whilst he was predominant in Basel’s shock victory over Liverpool this season. Attracting the likes of Bayern Munich, Manchester City and AS Roma, Arsenal will need to be fast to get their man. Valued at £7.04 million on the current transfer market, Arsenal should snap him up before he turns into a super-star somewhere else, the common story for all Arsenal fans.
2. Mats Hummels
Now getting into the big guns, Arsenal need a leader. Mertesacker, having failed to deliver any instructions or passion since taking over as vice-captain, there has been a huge difference in defensive discipline from the players in front of him. In the days of Sol Campbell, Tony Adams and Steve Bould, Arsenal would not commit 6 men forward when trying to defend a 1-0 lead. Circling over the transfer market, there is one name that stands out, who seems to likely be available.
Dortmund have had a torrid season, lying 15th in an 18 man league their stars are losing faith, as are the supporters. Jurgen Klopp seems unable to put it right, increasing the likelihood of Marco Reus and Mats Hummels departing. Hummels exerts his presence on the pitch. Always talking and communicating with those around him, he has a tactical knowledge of the game to the highest level. Proving key to Germany too in their World Cup triumph, his power, aerial ability and positioning combine to make him a complete defender. His pace isn’t sharp, but partnered with Koscielny, that’s not a problem. The formidable partnership he would create with the Frenchman would be breath-taking. Two elite centre-backs representing Arsenal, those were the days. A £30million bid may do it, as rumours increase that the German favours a desired move to the Emirates. It’s in your hands now Arsene.
3. Gerard Pique
It’s fair to receive stick for including the Spaniard. His woeful performance at the World-Cup and his decline at Barcelona has seen him drop in many fan’s eyes. I, however, am not convinced he is finished. The 27 year old has been dreaming of a Premier League return of late, well, if you believe the press. His leadership and experience hasn’t just arrived by post, he’s gained it whilst playing on the biggest stage of all. A certified talent who would bolster Arsenal’s back line.
Failing to adapt at Manchester United, he joined Barcelona in what looked like United’s second worse ever decision, behind Pogba’s sale of course. He’s earned every prize imaginable at Barca, including the Euro’s, World Cup, Champions League, Super Cup and La Liga. His partnership with Puyol will go down in Catalan history. and with Mertesacker slowly eroding and decreasing in ability, it’s time to freshen it up at Arsenal. He has the ball distribution to fit in at the Gunners, a passing-style club, whilst his block success and tackling percentages are through the roof. He shows such desire when he plays, a passion that is perhaps missed and overlooked at Arsenal. Vital in any team’s dressing room, a big signing like Pique is a necessity, probably costing in the region of £20million, if Barcelona let him go. Challenging Arsenal to the signature would be Manchester United and Manchester City, so don’t be surprised if there’s a large transfer imbroglio for this one.