Described by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger as ‘a centre-back of quality and experience, and at the right price’, the signing of French international Sebastien Squillaci from Sevilla certainly appears to be an astute addition to The Emirates set-up.
The Gunners completed the signing of the veteran central defender on Thursday and the former Lyon star will compete with fellow new signing Laurent Koscielny for a place in the heart of Wenger’s defence, alongside Belgian international Thomas Vermaelen. It leaves 23-year-old Swiss international Johan Djourou as the club’s fourth choice defender.
Central defence has been a problematic position for the North London side over the last few seasons, with Wenger so far failing to find the perfect combination at the back as he attempts to bring the club its first trophy since 2005. A side so intent on delivering free-flowing, attacking football needs solidity in defence and Arsenal fans have urged Wenger to finally solve his side’s back four frailties. Wenger has moved to address this over the summer and the experienced Squillaci could be the answer having impressed in spells at Monaco, Lyon and Sevilla.
Wenger lost an astonishing four centre-backs over the summer with William Gallas, Sol Campbell, Mikael Silvestre and Philippe Senderos all moving on. The arrivals of Squillaci and the highly-rated Koscielny from French side Lorient will ensure Arsenal have more than enough cover to cope with these departures.
However at the age of 30, Squillaci cannot be viewed as the long-term answer to Arsenal’s defensive problems. While Wenger has previously refused to sign players over the age of 30, it is a positive sign that he believes Squillaci can continue to deliver in the latter stages of his career. The £5m signing is expected to start ahead of the less experienced Koscielny this season and he will bring some much needed experience to the Arsenal side following the departure of Gallas to arch-rivals Tottenham on a free transfer.
Squillaci is renowned for his anticipation and heading ability and this should make up for what he lacks in pace. Wenger believes his new defender will give his side a more physical edge and will have no problems adapting to the physicality of the Premier League:
“He is a real defender and is good in the one against one, good in the air, and can score goals on set-pieces as well. I believe he will be suited to the English game,” revealed Wenger.
Squillaci has made over 350 appearances in club football and has been capped 21 times for France. He also has three French league titles to his name and was a key member of the Monaco side in their remarkable run to the 2004 Champions League final. His experience will be invaluable in the Arsenal dressing room.
While Arsenal fans were expecting a big name signing in central defence they can be pleased with Wenger’s business in the transfer market. Squillaci still has at least three years left at the highest level and will complement Vermaelen perfectly. The Frenchman is physically and mentally strong enough for the challenges of English football and will certainly be a force for Premier League strikers to reckon to with.