Five potential replacements for Arsenal's Per Mertesacker

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Arsenal fans' prayers for Arsene Wenger to sign a new centre-back could soon be answered.

That's not because the Frenchman wants to, but because he might not have a choice.

According to Sky Sports, Per Mertesacker - who is favourite to succeed Mikel Arteta as club captain - faces five months on the sidelines with a knee injury suffered during a friendly with RC Lens on Friday night.


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The much-maligned German is greatly unfavoured at the Emirates Stadium, with the general consensus being that he isn't good enough to start alongside Laurent Koscielny.

So, should Mertesacker's injury transpire, who could Wenger sign to fill the void? Here are five alternatives.

Shkodran Mustafi

Germany international Mustafi represents the ideal candidate to replace his crocked countryman.

The 24-year-old defender, currently at Valencia, possesses all the qualities that Arsenal are looking for: defensively solid, commanding and comfortable on the ball.

And he's been linked with a move to north London too. Reports suggest contact has been made by Wenger to sign Mustafi this summer, with further updates likely.

Benedikt Howedes

Arsenal fans will be all too familiar with Howedes given he has been on Wenger's radar for the best part of two years.

A World Cup winner with Germany and Schalke's captain in the Bundesliga, the 28-year-old would add greater consistency and steel at the back alongside Koscielny, Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal.

However, Howedes is currently in his 15th year at the Veltins-Arena and after signing a new deal in February, it would take some convincing for him to leave.

Kalidou Koulibaly

Another former target of Arsenal's, Koulibaly is highly sought-after across Europe - and it's easy to see why.

Tall, strong and fast, the 24-year-old has been a rock at the back for Napoli since arriving in Serie A two years ago. 

Wenger would have to stump up a minimum of £20 million to sign Koulibaly but considering the veteran manager recently vowed to "spend big" this summer, such an amount wouldn't dent his transfer budget too much.

Kostas Manolas

Should Wenger indeed decide to splash the cash, then doing so on Roma's Manolas would be a wise decision.

Much like the above, the Greece international is one of Europe's highest-rated centre-backs and continues to impress in Serie A, with his pace and physicality two particularly impressive assets.

For years now Arsenal's defence has been one or two signings away from being one of the best in the Premier League, and with Manolas at the heart of it - even if he would cost in excess of £30 million - they could even find the key to ending their title drought.

Mathieu Debuchy

Now here's a scary thought Arsenal fans. The faith Wenger puts in some of his players is often unwarranted and you wouldn't put it past him to play Debuchy in Mertesacker's absence to save money.

The French right-back was forced to play down the centre in December 2014 when Koscielny suffered a long-term injury and, to his credit, he performed admirably.

But with Arsenal's wait for Premier League glory currently at 12 years, Wenger needs to abandon his morals and make a change that fans have long yearned for.

Risk playing Debuchy alongside Koscienly, though, and the 66-year-old risks his own future at the Emirates.

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