Arsenal boss Unai Emery has revealed he is keen for the club to offer Nacho Monreal a new contract, in quotes published by The Mirror.
Unai Emery has seen his options on the left side of defence depleted this season, with Sead Kolasinac injured and even stand-in Ainsley Maitland-Niles face a lengthy spell on the sidelines after picking up a knock of his own.
That has left Nacho Monreal, who himself started the season injured, as the only recognised senior left-back available to Emery – and his long-term future is not certain as he edges towards the expiration of his deal next summer.
32-year-old Monreal will, therefore, be available on a free transfer and has attracted the interest of Barcelona but Emery has expressed his desire for his compatriot to be offered a new deal at the Emirates Stadium.
“First, I knew Nacho Monreal in Spain when he was playing in Osasuna and in Malaga. After six years here, I came and I know him as a new Nacho Monreal.
“After two weeks, after two months and now, I can say that I am very happy with him because he is 32 years old but I think physically, with his performances with us in matches, he is playing with a very good level.
“The rest of that, for me, is very important. I think we need to find a new contract with him to stay with the Arsenal team.”
At his age, it is clear that Monreal does not have a long-term future at Arsenal. However, it is also clear that the Gunners do not have a replacement ready and losing the Spain international next year could create problems.
Kolasinac, signed on a free transfer from Schalke last summer, has failed to cement a regular spot in the starting line-up and has largely been unable to compete with Monreal for a defensive role – often introduced off the bench in a more advanced position in the last year of Arsene Wenger’s tenure.
Maitland-Niles, the player who started the season at left-back, is not naturally a player who thrives in that position and his best role is in midfield. Therefore, Arsenal need to dip into the market to find a replacement for Monreal.
The issue, however, is that Arsenal have more pressing matters. Aaron Ramsey’s uncertain future could prove costly for the Gunners, as could the fact that Mesut Ozil is struggling for form – and they are still yet to land a replacement for Alexis Sanchez.
That may mean funds for a new left-back are limited and the easy solution is to hand Monreal an extended deal.