Arsenal are preparing to test Manchester United’s resolve with a £12 million bid for defender Chris Smalling, according to reports.
The Daily Telegraph this morning claims that Arsene Wenger sees the England international has the ideal replacement for Per Mertesacker, should the big German leave the Emirates Stadium in the summer, and is willing to make an offer, with just 12 months remaining on Smalling’s Old Trafford contract come the summer.
In the past Wenger has been attributed interest in the former Fulham man, who was once tipped to have a very bright future at United. During the days of Sir Alex Ferguson Smalling was looked upon as a potential successor to the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, though he’s never quite hit the heights earmarked for him from the off.
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Instead the 25-year-old has often been criticised, never more so than last season, and it would be a surprise if Louis van Gaal didn’t look to add experience to his back-line. Reports state that Borussia Dortmund’s Mats Hummels is the man the Dutchman covets most, which could force the transfer merry-go-round to begin to spin as a result.
Potential at Arsenal
At the moment there’s said to be uncertainty surrounding the long term future of Mertesacker at Arsenal, after what he will undoubtedly perceive as a drab campaign. The World Cup winner has looked off the pace at points this season and the decision over where he will be playing next season is likely one that will be made sooner rather than later.
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If he does end up leaving then an attempt will surely be made to recruit Smalling, who at six foot five is almost as big a presence as the rangy German. The man himself must be looking at Phil Jones and Jonny Evans and wondering whether or not they rank higher than him in Van Gaal’s pecking order, and a move to Arsenal would guarantee him first-team football at a club of similar standing to the one he’s at now.
One would assume Van Gaal will have final say over the decision to negotiate a new deal with Smalling, but the prospect of cashing in on him and putting the money towards a more experienced alternative is tantalising indeed.
With the young Paddy McNair quickly rising through the ranks but not quite ready to be a de-facto starter United have a good backup option, and it’s safe to say that both Jones and Evans would look more comfortable if they were paired with a natural leader like Hummels.
United and Arsenal fans, what do you think about the Smalling speculation? Let us know in the comments box below...