Arsene Wenger is looking to recover from the loss of former club captain Thomas Vermaelen by replacing him with Greece youngster Kostas Manolas, according to reports in Italy.
The Daily Express, citing rumours on the continent, claims that Arsenal are eyeing up a move for the 23-year-old as Wenger is worried that he will be caught short if either Laurent Koscielny or Per Mertesacker picks up an injury. Vermaelen was yesterday officially unveiled as a Barcelona player following his £15 million exit from the Emirates Stadium, and the Gunners boss has since confirmed that he will sign another central defender if possible.
At the moment Koscielny and Mertesacker rule the roost in north London, and Wenger has been experimenting somewhat with the likes of Calum Chambers and Nacho Monreal during the pre-season period. However when push comes to show neither of those two options is experienced enough in the position to be a reliable presence against the top teams, and as such another head needs to be brought into the fold.
Exactly who to bring in remains the question that poses Wenger problems. On the one hand he must acquire a defender who is ready and capable to step in when needed, whilst promising assured performances and a calm facade, but on the other the candidate needs to be willing to sit on the bench with minimal fuss whilst the aforementioned regular duo get the lion’s share of the game-time.
Rumours have suggested a player in the mould of Matija Nastasic, who is struggling to make the grade at Manchester City, could be ideal, and Manuel Pellegrini’s capture of Eliaquim Mangala today adds fuel to that specific flame. However Manolas would be far cheaper, and his performances at the World Cup for Greece would infer that he’s ready to make the step up from Olympiacos and the Greek Super League.
As is so often the cause in modern day transfer windows however, Wenger is not alone in his pursuit of the player in question, and Manchester United are amongst the clubs ready to bid for his signature. Louis van Gaal is in dire need of more defensive additions and, following the rejection he suffered when he made an offer for the £15 million Thomas Vermaelen, his options are running thin.
As such Manolas’ availability is set to spark an all-out transfer fight, with a host of clubs in Italy also poised to swoop. Arsenal may have the advantage of Champions League football, but will that be enough to put paid to United’s hopes?