The media constantly claim that Arsenal are on the search for a new centre-back, probably to replace Sebastien Squillaci, who has had an inauspicious start to his career in England.
Two Premier League players have been touted as possible signings, but there are serious doubts as to whether either of them would be able to cut the mustard at the North London club.
Gary Cahill has had a couple of very good seasons for Bolton, and has been widely tipped to make a move to any big club in the Premier League, not just Arsenal. He is best aerially, whilst on the floor, his ability is reasonable. What he has done in his career at Bolton has already made the decision that Martin O’Neill took to get rid of him at Aston Villa seem ridiculous.
There is no doubt that the 25-yar-old is in a comfort zone in the north of England; if he stays, he will be Bolton’s best defender, and he will have an easy time of it. However, should he join Arsenal, he will be a part of a defence which does not receive an awful lot of protection from the midfield, and the performance level at which he will be obliged to play against the top teams from Europe would be extremely high for every game.
Regarding Chris Samba, he may be a better option cost-wise, especially if Blackburn are relegated this weekend. He is the inferior player though, and there is always a doubt that lingers whether a player from a mid or lower league table club could ever really succeed at a higher level, especially if they are not young players who stand a good chance of improving under new management.
When a central defender is relegated with his club, one does have to ask if there is a reason for which that may have happened. Despite some decent performances late in the season, earlier on in the season, the 27-year-old had some shocking games, in which he demonstrated a lack of positional awareness, and generally very little ability outside of being strong in the air.
If Arsenal are in the market for a central-defender this summer, which is doubtful in the first place, then it seems hard to imagine that Arsene Wenger will try and sign either Cahill or Samba. The former is more likely simply because he is English and would aid the home-grown player quota, but then the price would be high. Samba would be cheaper, but would provide no actual increase in quality to the team. Therefore, this summer it would appear most likely that no dealings at centre-half will be made, but if they are, they shall not involve either of the two players most tipped to be joining the club.
Who would you like to see at Arsenal next season – Samba or Cahill?
Read more of Alistair’s articles at Gunnersphere