Arsenal should be given credit for their transfer dealings so far with a mixture of creative short term and long term solutions, but as the transfer window gears up for a manic close, fans are beginning to panic about the defensive holes which look certain to undermine another season.
Well, let’s just get some perspective before we go into a full blown meltdown. There are a few reasons that Emery and Co have been reasonably lax in solving their obvious issues at the back.
The William Saliba deal effectively threw a spanner in the works with Saint Étienne insisting on a season loan. Koscileny’s decision to go on strike until he was released from the remainder of his contract was unexpected, although most observers thought that Arsenal would try to offload him.
There are now concerns regarding the long term future of Mavropanos. He arrived in 2018 and at the time was thought to be a permanent solution to Arsenal’s dizzy defence, but the word is that the coaching staff are no longer convinced that’s the case.
This may be a shortsighted overview because he has been rather unfortunate with injuries and hasn’t managed a sustained run in the side, but perhaps this is one of the concerns.
Callum Chambers continues to mystify at times, with fans wondering why he remains an Arsenal employee.
He arrived in 2014 and has been farmed out to Middlesbrough and more successfully, Fulham, where he delivered a series of consistent performances which oddly saw him voted player of the year.
However at Arsenal, he has yet to find his feet at the Emirates and many have suggested that he doesn’t have the tools to bolster the sides leaky, creaky defence and fill up the defensive holes. Along with Carl Jenkinson, he is regularly mentioned as a candidate on a list of players that need to move on.
That dubious list is headed up by Shkodran Mustafi, the World Cup winning German who’s every error is magnified and subjected to a defensive post-mortem.
Yes, he makes ridiculous errors, goes to ground far too easily and irritatingly gives away goals but his stats are better than £80m United signing Harry McGuire.
That’s right ! Better !
I don’t agree with the sea of statistics that flood social media because they are generally misleading. Even though the stats show that Mustafi holds his own, McGuire is visually at a higher level, I’d still move him on.
- Blocks – Maguire 18, Mustafi 17
- Interceptions – Maguire 37, Mustafi 58
- Tackles – Maguire 31, Mustafi 62
- Tackles won – Maguire 17, Mustafi 45
- Percentage of tackles won – Maguire 55%, Mustafi 73%
- Clearances – Maguire 152, Mustafi 161
- Headed clearances – Maguire 77, Mustafi 106
- Aerial duels won – Maguire 118, Mustafi 123
Despite this bean counting nonsense, Mustafi is not mentally or physically built for the Premier League and definitely not enough to provide cover for our defensive holes. His reactions are significantly slower, his awareness and positioning are poor and he will surrender a lead in at least every other game by defending like a lumbering cow in clogs.
Having discussed what Arsenal have (or don’t have), what they want is someone on a reasonably long lone of around two seasons and Daniele Rugani (Juventus) would have been ideal. This is a deal that is apparently on hold with too many caveats involved but as the window ticks down, Arsenal might go back in for the central defender to cover up their defensive holes.
West Ham’s Issa Diop, was said to be on the shopping list but the asking price of £65m seems to have ended that enquiry.
Lewis Dunk (Brighton) should be another defender who deserves Unai Emery’s consideration and a deal could be made quickly if they act now. The towering English defender would show a similar desire and ambition that was apparent in the likes of Tony Adams, Nigel Winterburn and Lee Dixon.
I’m convinced that the anxiety fans are suffering at present will be addressed before the season starts, but we also have to consider that Emery may consider that he has the answer at his finger tips. Rob Holding is working his way back to fitness, but Joseph Olowu is said to be making an impression in Holdings absence in training and is known to be favoured by none other than Freddie Ljungberg.
Walter Kannemann, is a name that refuses to go away, but the fact that Edu has returned from his travels suggests that this may be nothing more than a red herring.
Detailed Analysis Into What Exactly Prompted This Massive Break The Bank Spree By The Arsenal Hierarchy
Two possible contenders are RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano and Juventus defender Daniele Rugani. A reported bid/loan deal for the young Italian did not meet with the approval of Juve, with the player said to be keen to prove himself under Maurizio Sarri.
A deal for Upamecano would be in the region of £55m and require another series of complicated and structured repayments, but either of these two defenders would add some steel to Arsenals chaotic and floppy backline and refill their defensive holes.
The clock is ticking but expect an arrival, Arsenal and Emery need one desperately.