According to reports from Spanish media outlet El Desmarque, Arsenal are looking to sign Real Betis defender Aissa Mandi. The Algerian international has a contract until June 2021 with the Spanish club, and has a £27m release clause in his contract. Arsenal are looking to match this valuation to prize away the defender.
Reports from Spain indicate that Arsenal aim to secure Mandi’s signature either in January only, or in the summers. However, extreme restriction in the transfer budget has left Arsenal unable to trigger the release clause of the Algerian.
Arsenal’s dire financial situation only allows room for loan deals, and the La Liga club are in no pressure to let him leave on a temporary basis. This only leaves the possibility of a summer deal for Arsenal.
This is not the first time that Mandi has been linked with the Gunners. As reported by The Sun, back in 2015, when Aissa Mandi was making his name for Ligue 1 outfit Reims, former Gunners boss Arsene Wenger tried to sign him but a move failed to materialise.
However, this season, Aissa Mandi has been on sensational form for his club, appearing 27 times in all competitions in a season that has seen Betis mount a surprising push for a Champions League spot. His form has attracted the attention from several clubs, but Arsenal seem to be the leading source of interest.
Securing the signature of Mandi can be something vital for Arsenal because of one reason: injuries. With Rob Holding already injured, Hector Bellerin was recently ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury. This has left Arsenal with a severe shortage for defenders who are cut out for the Premier League.
Aissa Mandi started his career has a right back, but later converted into a centre back. He is equally adept at both positions, and can also slot in at left back if required. This versatility can be extremely useful to a squad that looks as thin as ice right now.
The probable signing of Aissa Mandi looks to be a favourable one for both the club and the fans. Aissa Mandi presents a rock solid option at the heart of the defence for a relatively cheap price tag. Arsenal’s back line have shown themselves to be quite unreliable when it comes to injuries, and a versatile player like Aissa Mandi will help provide not only competition at the centre back spot, but also adequate cover at the fullback spots.
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Aissa Mandi has experience playing at the highest level for his nation, representing Algeria in the 2014 World Cup. This experience will surely help him settle into a league that is as unforgiving as the Premier League. If Arsenal wait until summer to pounce on Mandi, it might be very difficult to lure him to the Emirates, with several clubs already showing interest in him. However, if Unai Emery succeeds in bringing the 6ft 1in defender to Arsenal, he might prove to be a big success for the Gunners.