The departure of Thomas Vermaelen from Arsenal may not appear to have hit the first-team’s ambitions too hard from the outside looking in, but Arsene Wenger’s recent transfer activity connotes that he is indeed concerned that he could be caught short with his centre-back options as a result.
The Belgian international was sold to Barcelona for £15 million last week, leaving the Gunners with only Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker as recognised central defenders.
Both Calum Chambers and Nacho Monreal can provide useful cover, but neither are proven in the Premier League when it comes to being detailed at the heart of the defence, and Wenger is looking for someone with more experience.
It’s thought that Juventus star Leonardo Bonucci joins the likes of Toby Alderweireld and Greece youngster Kostas Manolas on a three man short-list, with Arsenal set to make attempts to bring in one of the European trio.
Whilst Bonucci has perhaps the most pedigree, having been a mainstay in Juve’s team for four years, Alderweireld has long been considered one of the brightest prospects of an exciting Belgian national setup, and Manolas represents a talent with plenty of promise for the years to come.
Talks with Manolas
Reports yesterday claimed that the Gunners were already in negotiations with Olympiacos to determine the future of Manolas, with the Super League star available for as little as £8 million. It's said that the fact that Koscielny and Mertesacker rule the roost could pose a problem, as Manolas won't want to give up first-team football purely for the sake of a Premier League move.
The youngster is considered a key player at his current club, and touted in some quarters as being a future great for Greece, so will that be enough to make him refuse Arsenal in favour of another destination where he'll be guaranteed more opportunities?
Moving forward it’s bad news with regards to the long-term pursuit of Brazilian holding midfielder Luis Gustavo, after the anchorman confirmed he would be remaining at Wolfsburg for another season. Wenger has been on the look out for a defensive shield who can protect his back four for some time now and, with deals for Sami Khedira and Morgan Schneiderlin seemingly having been nothing more than fanciful gossip, Gustavo appeared to be the man he was placing his faith in.
Yet the Brazil star has committed his future to his Bundesliga club, leaving Wenger to once more return to the drawing board.