How Arsenal entered the current season with one less defender than last year is quite frankly beyond me – but there’s no looking back now and at least Arsene Wenger is looking to rectify the situation, with news that he’ll be on the hunt for a new centre-half in January.
Of course, the winter window is never the ideal opportunity to buy so a star-studded addition of the Mats Hummels variety unfortunately seems unlikely.
There are some options out there however, so just in case the Gunners gaffer is short on ideas, here’s FIVE centre-backs the Premier League outfit could realistically sign in the New Year.
Height: 6 foot 2
Positions: Centre-back only
Teams: Partizan Belgrade, Fiorentina, Manchester City, Serbian national team
Honours: Premier League title 2013/14, League Cup 2013/14, Manchester City Young Player of the Year 2012/13
Linked clubs: Arsenal, AC Milan, Schalke
Likely transfer fee: £10million, according to The Express
A forgotten man at the Etihad, Matija Nastasic’s last competitive outing for Manchester City was in the 3-0 Community Shield defeat to Arsenal at the start of the season. A few days later, Manuel Pellegrini coughed up a whopping £32million for France centre-half Eliaquim Mangala.
Nastasic once forged an impressive centre-back partnership with Vincent Kompany however – his reading of the game and quality on the ball particularly standing out for a player so young.
Injuries have peppered the 16-cap Serbian’s City tenure somewhat and he’s rather slight for a Premier League centre-back. Clearly talented however with great pedigree, moving to a club that offers regular football will quickly kick-start Nastasic’s stuttering career.
Height: 6 foot 2
Positions: Centre-Back and Left-Back
Teams: Basconia, Bilbao Athletic, Athletic Bilbao, France U21s
Linked clubs: Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United
Likely transfer fee: £32million release clause
Having emerged as arguably La Liga’s most exciting centre-back prospect over the last few seasons, a plethora of Premier League clubs have been monitoring Aymeric Laporte’s progress for some time. This season, he’s averaged the fifth-most interceptions per match of any player in the Spanish top flight, as detailed below:
With 59 La Liga outings under his belt and having started all but one of Bilbao’s league fixtures this season, the French centre-half is already taking on huge responsibility for a player so young.
That, combined with his obvious talent and the limit of silverware with the Basque side, is the source of Premier League interest in Laporte; a quick, intelligent and versatile defender. He’ll cost big bucks but if develops as expected, also offers huge reward.
Height: 6 foot 3
Positions: Left Back and Centre-Back
Teams: Yate Town, Chippenham Town, Ipswich Town
Honours: Championship Player of the Month for September 2014
Linked clubs: Arsenal, Chelsea, West Ham
Likely transfer fee: £8million, according to the Telegraph and just about everybody
Arsene Wenger has already admitted his interest in Ipswich prodigy Tyrone Mings so few would bet against Arsenal launching a bid for him in January.
Mick McCarthy once picked up the towering defender for just £20k, and he’s enjoyed a huge breakthrough as the Tractor Boys’ left-back this season with former No.3 Aaron Cresswell moving to West Ham in the summer. Here’s his vitals this season:
Ambitious, agile and effective going forward yet blessed with the powerful, imposing frame of a Premier League centre-half, Mings is the kind of player that could be moulded into anything by the Arsenal’s coaches.
Whether the Gunners need another project at the back right now, however, remains open to debate.
Height: 6 foot 3
Positions: Centre-back only
Teams: Midtjylland, West Ham, New Zealand national team
Honours: Championship Playoff winner 2011/12, Hammer of the Year 2012/13
Linked clubs: Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs
Likely transfer fee: £6million according to the Daily Mail, £20million according to Sam Allardyce.
Certainly not the most talented defender to ever grace the Emirates in technical terms, but Winston Reid is a bona fide master of the nuts and bolts of the trade; when it comes to tackles, interceptions, blocks and headers, he’s your man. At the minute, one could argue that’s exactly what Arsenal need – a bit of a Martin Keown figure.
The New Zealand skipper has made huge progress since first moving to East London after the 2010 World Cup and is now keen to challenge himself at a higher level – with Hammers owner David Sullivan admitting Reid is yet to sign a new contract over the issue of European football.
With his current deal set to expire in the summer, it’s believed Arsenal, Spurs and Liverpool – and potentially some clubs from abroad – will try to prize him away in January. Sam Allardyce clearly doesn’t want to sell however and the East Londoners’ current league position of fourth could convince the gritty centre-back to stay on at Upton Park.
Height: 6 foot 1
Positions: Centre-back, but could play at full-back in theory
Teams: FC Wil, FC Basel, Switzerland national team
Honours: Two Swiss Super League titles
Linked clubs: Arsenal, Tottenham, Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan
Likely transfer fee: £5million-£10million, according to The Express
Statistically speaking, Fabian Schar was the best defender in the Champions League last season, as detailed below:
Indeed, the defender’s form at club, European and international level has been continually impressive over the last 18 months. He also chips in with a fair amount of goals, netting nine in his first two seasons at Basel and four in nine for the Swiss national team.
Resultantly, Schar has been tipped as a future star for some time and Europe’s transfer vultures are now circling closer than ever, with his contract set to expire at the end of the season and a new deal looking increasingly unlikely.
The Swiss hotshot boasts an intoxicating front-footed style, similar to Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen, epitomising the in-vogue mould of the modern day centre-back.
A little slender for the Premier League but unquestionably talented, after a season or so to settle and build up his physicality, Schar could emerge as one of the English top flight’s leading defenders.