Winston Reid could be ideal replacement for Thomas Vermaelen

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The departure of Thomas Vermaelen has led Arsenal into the market in pursuit of reinforcements at centre-back, with the club now somewhat light in terms of senior options for these defensive positions.

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Contract negotiations

But while Arsene Wenger will mount a search that encompasses all of the continent’s elite divisions, it may well be that the ideal acquisition lies just 10 miles across London to the east of the Emirates Stadium.

West Ham’s Winston Reid is this player. He has been linked with Arsenal in the past, although not as extensively as some, and it is something of surprise that speculation has not been reignited after Vermaelen’s £15 million sale, given Reid’s potential availability.

The New Zealand international signed a new contract with West Ham only a year ago, but this expires in less than 12 months. West Ham naturally want to extend again and, such is the high regard in which Reid is held, have made a lucrative offer in the hope of convincing him to do so.

Co-chairman David Sullivan has conceded that negotiations with Reid remain “in the air” and player could be forgiven for allowing time to contemplate all options before making a decision on his future at the Boleyn Ground.

Arsenal approach

Should Arsenal decide Reid represents an option worth pursuing, and aged 26 he certainly should be viewed as such, then it would be something of a wrangle to release him from West Ham’s clutches.

Under Sullivan and David Gold the club have been strong negotiators, and they would not be prepared to give up lightly on one of their most prized assets. But, as is often case in these situations, the want of the player could win out.

Reid could leave Upton Park for free in 2015, and the Hammers would surely be keep to recoup some money after two summers of significant spending if they are backed into a corner by the player and his representatives.

14 clean sheets

This uncertainty regarding his future is, of course, not the sole reason that Reid ought to be under consideration from Arsene Wenger. His performances over the past two seasons more than justify links with a club of more prominent standing than his current one.

While West Ham endured a campaign of misery last season, confirming safety just one week from its conclusion, they were able to record 14 clean sheets - just three less than Reid's would be suitors.

Despite missing three months of the season Reid contributed to nine of these clean sheets, while his return to the team in early February resulted in a run of wins that ultimately ensured the club remained in the Premier League.

While Reid does not possess any experience of European football, a highly valued commodity, he undoubtedly has the tactical nous, confidence on the ball and relative adventure required as an Arsenal defender.

Calum Chambers has already proven that experience sometimes counts for nothing - but Reid has bags of it in English football at least and, although not a spectacular signing for Arsenal, could be a very good one.

Watch: The latest Arsenal transfer news

Versatile option

When Reid arrived at West Ham four years ago after performing to distinction for his country at the World Cup he had been utilised more regularly as a right-back. His knowledge of this position would surely appeal to Wenger.

Chambers can, of course, fulfil this criteria having played on the right of defence for Southampton last term, but Wenger sees the 19-year-old as an eventual holding midfielder. Reid, then, can be the versatile back-up defender Arsenal need for the long-term.

He is a centre-back in the John Terry or Nemanja Vidic mould in the disregard for his own welfare when trying to halt attacks, but he is an intelligent defender and one who could serve Arsenal competently.

While Sam Allardyce endures a torrent of criticism from his own fans, justifiably so in the main, for the way the team operates under his command, the manager deserves credit for turning Reid into a very good defender. And the best is surely yet to come.

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Thomas Vermaelen
West Ham United
Premier League
Winston Reid

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