It was reported earlier today by the Daily Telegraph that Arsenal were preparing a £12 million bid for Manchester United defender Chris Smalling as they go in search of improvement ahead of next season.
Although Gunners manager Wenger attempted to land the former Fulham defender in January 2010, Smalling chose to move to the Theatre of Dreams. Despite enjoying success during the tenure of Sir Alex Ferguson, the defender has grown out-of-favour under Van Gaal's management and Gunners boss is reported to have retained a strong interest in signing Smalling.
The latest development in the United future of Chris Smalling has picked up speed amidst the persisting uncertainty of German defender Per Mertesacker at the Emirates. Despite establishing himself as one of the pillars of the Gunners' central defence in recent years, the 'BFG' has faced a horde of criticism as a result of his all-too reoccurring defensive errors.
With the big German likely to be forced out of the Emirates in the summer, Wenger will be keen to add to his defensive options and Smalling, being a home-grown player, would appear to be a match made in heaven...
Highly unlikely to materialise
As Gooners were busying themselves by comparing the undoubted talents of defensive transfer targets Chris Smalling with those of Borussia Dortmund's Matts Hummels, it would appear that Arsenal themselves have all but ruled out the signing of the 25 year old Englishman in the summer transfer window.
As reported by the London Evening Standard today, the Gunners’ expectation is that Smalling will commit his future to United, who are preparing to offer the 25-year-old an extension to his current contract which expires at the end of next season.
However, should a new deal with the 25 year old fail to materialise come the end of the season, Wenger's reported £12 million offer would possibly be too tempting for Van Gaal to refuse with the possibility of the defender leaving the next year for free when his United contract expires.
Smalling would bring defensive resilience
Despite the deal now looking increasingly unlikely, Gunners fans should still be allowed to 'dream' and there is no doubt that should Smalling complete the switch to the Emirates, he would bring a new-found doggedness and resilience to the Arsenal back four. If he were to move to north London, Wenger would essentially be making a more-or-less straight swap for Per Mertesacker as the Englishman possesses that aerial strength and tackling ability that is a hallmark of the BFG's game.
The only obvious difference would be the youth and potential for improvement in Smalling, as well as the obvious pace of the Englishman which couldn't contrast more with the slow canter of Mertesacker.
Standing at a towering 6 foot 4, Smalling is both strong and quick. He’s an exceptional athlete, and at Fulham and later at Manchester United (bar the odd moments of madness such as his rash red card earlier on in the season in the Manchester derby) has done enough to demonstrate his competency with the nuts and bolts of the defensive trade; tackles, headers, clearances, positioning.
Yes, perhaps Smalling does not possess the technical finesse and on-the-ball composure that is often required for top-class central defenders in today's game, but that would not necessarily be a must considered he would partner up with technically-apt Laurent Koscielney. In short, Smalling would be simplistic but effective addition to the Gunners ranks, should he seal a move away from the Theatre of Dreams in the summer transfer window.