This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Speaking on ESPN FC, former Liverpool star Steve Nicol has told Arsenal to take a “good gamble” this summer and sign Juventus centre-back Daniele Rugani.
Despite clinching a reported £27m deal for St Etienne centre-back William Saliba this summer, the terms of the agreement meant that the Gunners had to loan back the teenager for the upcoming campaign.
Laurent Koscielny’s saga has also seemingly robbed Arsenal of a potential centre-back for the new season, and Nicol has now urged the Gunners to make a move for Daniele Rugani – despite his limited game time at Juventus.
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He said: “Arsenal no question need help at centre-back. The worry for me is Rugani has not even had a shout really in my opinion at Juventus. He probably is (better than what Arsenal have) but he’s 24 and he hasn’t had a lot of football in the last couple of seasons.
“They’re in a position where they have to gamble. They can’t afford to go out and sign a recognised centre-back and spend a lot of money on them. I guess, at the end of the day, Rugani is a gamble. But it’s a good gamble. He’s going to be a hit (if he joins Arsenal).”
Having conceded 51 goals in the Premier League last season, the defensive frailties of Arsenal were clear for all to see. Unai Emery’s side looked fragile on occasion, and things like Rob Holding’s long-term injury and now the situation over club captain Koscielny certainly hasn’t helped matters.
Whilst the fine signing of Saliba is one for the future, the Gunners are in desperate need of a centre-back for the here and now. Rugani’s inability to break into the Juventus’ first-team should by in no means be taken as a slight against him; rather, credit must be given to the Bianconeri’s impressive strength in depth in the position in the likes of Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli, amongst others.
Whenever Rugani has played however, he has shown flashes of his potential. At 24, he still remains rather young for a central defender and has plenty of room to grow. Juventus’ signing of Matthijs de Ligt has most probably pushed him further down the pecking order in Turin, and so the Gunners could well get Rugani for a price that is rather reasonable.