Arsenal could be moving closer to signing Toby Alderweireld after he was left out of Atletico Madrid’s squad for the Spanish Super Cup against fierce rivals Real Madrid.
Diego Simeone has never had the Belgium international as a regular in his side and now Het Nieuwsblad are suggesting that this could be the final snub that leads to a move this summer, possibly to Emirates Stadium.
Arsene Wenger is on the lookout for defensive recruits after club captain Thomas Vermaelen joined Barcelona this month, leaving the Arsenal manager with only three viable centre-back options left in his squad.
It would have been two had summer signing from Southampton Calum Chambers not impressed so much when thrown in to the starting line-up at the beginning of the Gunners’ season.
Experience on its way
Per Mertesacker is due to return to the team come the weekend Premier League fixture away at Everton, while Laurent Koscielny has been struggling with an Achilles injury since the Community Shield win over Manchester City.
Wenger has also openly admitted he may look for a new recruit that can play in a number of positions and Alderweireld would certainly fit the bill in that regard. The 25-year-old is primarily a centre-back but can just as easily operate at right-back – much like new star Chambers.
Knock-on from knock?
Even though the Gunners has reportedly been on the lookout for a new defensive midfielder, Mikel Arteta’s ankle injury, picked up in Tuesday’s scoreless draw in the first leg of the Champions League qualification playoff against Besiktas, could have sped up the process.
Alderweireld would mostly be seen as a defender, but he played in midfield for Ajax on numerous occasions before making the switch to Atletico in the summer of 2013. However, Wenger has admitted he sees Chambers as eventually taking up a midfield role, so an out and out defender may be the preferred option for the French tactician.
Previous reports this summer had suggested that Alderweireld could be attractive to a number of Europe’s leading clubs because he would be available for a transfer fee in the region of £8million; not an astronomical amount for an international defender.
These reports also claimed that both Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur were both tracking him and that their respective defensive issues could lead to them rivalling the Gunners if any move is made.
Brendan Rodgers has already spent £20million on Southampton centre-back Dejan Lovren, so his need for defensive cover is not so pressing, but new Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino is looking to revamp the squad and Alderweireld could be ideal, what with the futures of Michael Dawson and Vlad Chiriches both coming under speculation.
While he may be one option, the latest reports have claimed that the Gunners are actually closing on the signing of 23-year-old Greek defender Kostas Manolas from Olympiacos. With the fee mooted as being similar to that of Alderweireld’s, Arsenal reportedly need only finalise personal details for the Greece international after agreeing terms and completing a medical.