The THREE runners and riders to fill Wenger’s defensive hole

Arsene Wenger will have to require some form of reinforcements this summer, as their closest rivals look, and continue to bolster up their own squads ahead of the upcoming season. Wenger has already managed to capture young Dutch starlet Kyle Ebecilio from Feyenoord and is on the verge of completing a deal for French defender Laurent Koscielny sometime this week. However, the Arsenal faithful will want to see their messiah obtain more players, and Wenger himself may believe this to be true as well. The Arsenal boss will certainly need to make at least one or two more new signings, in different areas of his squad before the summer window closes.

Wenger should (if he hasn’t already) be bracing himself for the loss of three possible centre-backs before the season commences. William Gallas, Sol Campbell, and Mikael Silvestre all look to be heading for the exit doors of the Emirates this summer for very different reasons. If all three defenders were to leave during the summer window, then Arsenal will be left with only three recognized centre-backs, Thomas Vermaelen, Johan Djourou and the imminent Laurent Koscielny. Taking this information into account, surely Wenger must acquire another defender to add depth in the back-line for the forthcoming season?

Wenger has been linked with a number of top-draw defenders in the past few weeks, but has not yet made a move for any.

With that being said, here are 3 potential centre-backs that would no doubt strengthen and help the Arsenal defence this season:

Per Mertesacker (Werder Bremen)

The 6’ 6’’ Werder Bremen defender is reported to be on Wenger’s radar this summer and should get the fans approval should Arsenal manage to acquire him this summer. The German international is currently in South Africa and has undoubtedly been the rock in the middle of his country’s defence. The tall centre-back would be a perfect addition to the Arsenal squad as he has great aerial ability, positional sense and can be a major threat from corners and set pieces due to his height. Arsenal lack solidarity in the back (as proven last season) and no doubt Mertesacker could solve this problem. Earlier this week, Wenger indicated that the defender remains on the Emirates wanted list and has stated that he will be making a move for the German when the World Cup concludes this Sunday. The Bundersliga player is flattered by the interest shown in him by the North London club, and should an offer come in for him this summer, he may be tempted to join the Gunners. Many of the Arsenal faithful (including me) would be very pleased to see the arrival of the 25-year-old and would love to see him compete with Laurent Koscielny for the vacant slot next to Thomas Vermaelen in the Arsenal back-line this season. Per Mertesacker was valued at £10 million prior to the World Cup, but his price tag would have inflated after formidable performances for Germany in South Africa. Wenger could possibly obtain his services for a fee of approximately £15-20 million this summer.

Continue to page 2 to see who else is on the list

Simon Kjaer (Palermo)

The 21-year-old centre-back is one of the most highly rated defenders in Europe today and as such would make a great addition to the Arsenal squad this season. The Palermo man was one of Denmark’s better performers at this years World Cup in South Africa, and showed the world why he is tipped for great things in the future. Even at a young age, Kjaer has managed to become an established player for Palermo in the past 2 years and is also a regular starter for his country. Kjaer has great aerial ability, as well as pace and strength in abundance, everything that Arsenal are missing and need in the back-line before the season gets underway next month. The Dane would adapt well to the competitive style of the English game because of his height and experience he has gained in Italy. Kjaer has the ability and mentality to shape a formidable partnership with Thomas Vermaelen. With the right guidance under Wenger, and senior members of the defence in the team adding the Dane, Simon Kjaer could potentially become a great player for the North London club. Kjaer would only cost Arsenal £12 million, due to a release clause within his existing contract. So even though he may have enhanced his reputation this summer in South Africa his price tag would not have inflated at all. However, Arsenal will have competition for the centre-backs signature this summer after recent reports claim that Tottenham, Manchester United and newly Wolfsburg are also tracking the promising defender. Some Arsenal fans may think that they need a more experienced centre-back walking through the Emirates doors this summer. This majority maybe right, but surely for the players age and ability, £12 million isn’t that much to splash out is it?

Jan Vertonghen (Ajax)

Jan Vertonghen was Thomas Vermaelen’s centre-back partner at Ajax before the Belgian made the switch to the Emirates last summer. Ideally, Vertonghen is the perfect candidate to take up the possible vacant slot next to his Belgian compatriot in the Arsenal back-line this season. The 23-year-old Ajax defender formed an immense partnership with Vermaelen whilst he was contracted to the Dutch side, and as such, both will know how each other operate on the field. Wenger has realised this, and believes if the two did it at Ajax, then there is no reason why they couldn’t rekindle their partnership at the Emirates this season. As well as playing in a central role in defence, Vertonghen can also function well anywhere on the left side and as a make-shift defensive midfielder if required. The Belgian international, stands at 6’ 3’’, has great passing ability, pace, strength as well as a fierce left foot. The defender also loves to bomb forward, shoots at will, and is a danger for the opposition when there are set-pieces and corners to be taken. Having seen the player in action for Ajax, Vertonghen reminds me a lot of Vermaelen in his movement and the way he approaches a game. As stated before, the Ajax man would ideally be the best centre-back out there to partner Vermaelen at Arsenal this season. Even if Sol Campbell decides to stay, the Belgian should still be acquired to add more depth and options. However, taking this all into consideration, would Wenger be willing to splash out at least £15 million for the tall defender? Arsenal definitely need a solid centre-back, and for the reason already stated, it would certainly be money well spent if it meant strengthening the Gunners back-line for the upcoming season.

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