Arsenal must finally find a replacement for Patrick Vieira this season if they are to mount a credible charge for the Premier League title.
Vieira, who left the Gunners in 2005, became captain after Tony Adams retired in 2002 and steered the side through their invincible season.
His last kick for Arsenal was a penalty in the FA Cup final against Manchester United, which saw him lift the FA Cup in 2005, a feat an Arsenal player had to wait nine years to match.
The team has since lacked direction, and despite being able to lift back-to-back FA Cups with victory against Aston Villa on Saturday, it goes down as the bleakest spell in Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal career.
With Mikel Arteta set to leave this summer, the captain’s armband is up for grabs meaning it is a crucial time for the direction of the team, with no real stand out candidates.
Who will take the armband?
Per Mertesacker looks the obvious choice but his reliability has been questioned again this season and he lacks the animation and passion that Vieira gave to the side.
Wenger is therefore left with a dilemma and may feel he needs to dip into the market for a captain this summer.
The perfect candidate would be a strong defensive minded player with the ability to command a team and change a game. This provides a nice balance to Arsenal’s attacking flair and may reduce the calamitous defending that has become synonymous with the Gunners of late.
The side banded around the armband as a way of making players stay in recent years which led to a real lack of leadership during the Robin van Persie tenure as, despite his great form, Arsenal still lacked stability.
Many of the options available on the transfer market don’t suit either, with Juventus-bound Sami Khedira lacking the experience of captaincy and Alex Song’s temper far too unreliable to depend opon.
Perhaps the only natural captain that may be on offer this summer is Borussia Dortmund skipper Mats Hummels. With a combination of Dortmund’s failure to make the Champions League and Jurgen Klopp’s departure perhaps starting an exodus of playing staff.
The German not only has experience captaining a top side, he has been a consistent member of a trophy-winning team. His decision-making is arguably amongst the best in the world, combined with composure that ensures defensive errors are kept to a minimum.
The bad news is that Hummels seems set for a move to Manchester United if he opts to leave the Bundesliga side this summer, meaning Wenger may be forced to look elsewhere.
This doesn’t change the need for a leader at the Emirates though and it is perhaps now Arsenal realise what they have lost through Abou Diaby’s injury ravaged time with the Gunners.
On his day the Frenchman’s power and speed have made him unplayable, with his style built in a similar mould to fellow countryman Vieira.
Arsenal haven’t finished higher than third since Vieira departed in 2005 meaning the recipe looks clear, sign a defensive minded leader and the Gunners will be firing on all cylinders. The only trouble comes in finding one willing to move to north London.
Who do you think would be an ideal future Arsenal captain? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!