Do Arsenal need to stop looking for defensive signings? (Opinion)

It is never a shock when Arsenal rumours emerge linking us with potential signings, but with our current options I believe a defender is the last thing we need.

I’m aware that the club offloaded the likes of Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis in the previous window, while sending William Saliba out on loan also, but we still have a large number of options available for selection.

Pablo Mari, Gabriel Magalhaes, David Luiz and Rob Holding are currently sharing the two starting roles at present, while Calum Chambers remains an option after he recovered from an extended spell on the sidelines.

On top of the five vying for roles at present, we also have William Saliba, Konstantinos Mavropanos and Mark McGuinness all impressing out on loan also, with the former pair playing regularly in the top tier of French and German football at present.

Mavropanos has already impressed fans when deputising in the first-team in 2019, before falling back down the pecking order when others returned to fitness.

The Gunners will need to be careful to consider overlooking both Saliba and KM ahead of the new season, with many clubs likely to be willing to guarantee them regular playing time should they quit and join them, and we will definitely be at risk of losing them permanently if they do not get their chance.

McGuinness however appears to be dedicated to waiting for his chance however, and while he deserves a fair shot in pre-season to try and show his worth to the first-team squad, he would likely welcome being tested with another loan in the Championship or Premier League after his exploits in League One with Ipswich this term.

Links with the likes of Ibrahima Konate and Odilon Kossonou are all well and good, but there are big things expected from our younger players who are yet to get their chance, and while we must trust the process, surely it is obvious that are weaknesses are in other areas no?

Patrick

Tags Konstantinos Mavropanos William Saliba

32 Comments

  1. Davi says:

    Well yes I think centre backs are the least of our problems now. Fullbacks, centre midfield and centre forwards look like the areas we need to strengthen

  2. Ba Elkhirsawy says:

    We do not need center backs, that is for sure, even if Luiz left and even if Chambers is used elsewhere.
    We have number of on loan defenders, they will lack experience which is essential in defence but we can I guess count on holding, Mari and Gabriel.

    1. Ba Elkhirsawy says:

      If we will get someone, he must add experience (and is yet to reach retiring form).

    2. Grandad says:

      While I have not seen Saliba nor Mavroponas in action this season they seem to be doing well according to reports from France and Germany.One player who I know is impressing on loan at Blackpool, is Daniel Ballard who has been voted man of the match on a number of occasions and has gained the plaudits of his Manager in what is a tough League physically.Let’s hope one of these guys proves to be the top quality CB we have been looking for for some time.In terms of priorities,we need an athletic DM to support Partey, a young natural back up for Tierney, and an upgrade on Bellerin at RB..I could go on with a shopping list for at least two others, but in the post Covid economic situation, money will be tight for virtually every Club for some time.

      1. Ba Elkhirsawy says:

        True, Ballard and McGuinness are so promising. I wish if we can give Chambers a go in DM instead of ElNeny.
        All in all, we need a 1st choice RB, I agree, a 2nd choice LB, and a striker, especially if Lacca and Eddie are going out, Eddie needs a loan yo get regular playing time, though I hope we can give Martenilli a go there, he was impressive and/or Moller may be (as he has the height, never seen him).
        I hope we can keep Odegaard or replace it otherwise ESR has no backup unless Willian can step up.

        1. Sue says:

          I’m very excited for McGuinness, Ba. We have some super youngsters right now and he is definitely one to keep an eye on!!

          1. ozziegunner says:

            Sue, there are quite a few talented players in the Academy. Great to see so many performing well on loan against seasoned professionals in the lower leagues.

          2. Sue says:

            Spot on, Ozzie 👍

      2. ozziegunner says:

        Grandad, agree with your assessment. Joel Lopez is a real prospect at LB to support Tierney and Arsenal also have a couple of potential RB in the Academy. Personally I would like Max Aarons from Norwich City to replace Bellerin.

  3. gotanidea says:

    We just need a new LB to compete with Tierney

    1. Saint Emirates says:

      For me, if I am to sign one player for arsenal it should be a central midfielder
      2 players= central midfielder and a right back(after selling Bellerin)
      3 players= central midfielder, right back and central striker ( after selling Nketiah)

      1. Saint Emirates says:

        Central midfielder is a number 10

        1. gotanidea says:

          We’ve got plenty of players who can play well in those positions:

          – CAM: Smith-Rowe, Willian, Nelson, Willock, Cottrell
          – RB: Bellerin, Soares, Chambers
          – CF: Only Lacazette can hold the opponents off, so we need a taller CF with Lacazette’s ability in tight spaces

    2. Trudeau says:

      I really like the look of Ait-Nouri from Wolves but whether he would want to come and deputise for Tierney is another matter.

  4. Charles says:

    We just need a LB that is all for now.

  5. OxInTheBox says:

    We need a CB. Holding, Gabriel and Mari are decent but not top players. We need one top CB to command our defence.

  6. McLovin says:

    Well, honestly we need

    LB
    GK (backup), wouldn’t mind Ryan
    CB
    CM
    ST
    CAM if Ödegaard returns to RM

    I think a lot depends on sales. I would be willing to part ways with Laca, Chambo, Elneny, Xhaka, Luiz and Ceballos.

    I think Dinos, Ballard and McG needs to be given extensions and loan out for more games. McG has played a lot but Dinos and Ballard just have ~10 starts so rather than sit on our bench or play U21, get games under. I think the League One fellas are good enough for Championship.

  7. GunnerSince2004 says:

    Its about adding quality to our defence. If in 2 or 3 years time we are to compete with Man City for EPL title we need 2 starting XI’s unfortunately.
    That’s just how football is these days in EPL.

    Can you believe Man City have Dias, Laporte, Stones and Ake for CB’s! Anyone of those are better than any of Arsenal’s CB’s. Right now Ake is injured and they don’t miss him. De Bruyne was injured they didnt miss him. Aguero has been injured but not missed either.

    Liverpool paid the price this season for not have adequate squad rotation players like Man City do. And remember City had their share of injuries in the first half of the season but weathered through because of squad depth.

    At the moment I’d say we’re okay at LCB (Gabriel & Mari – perfect age mix as well). It’s RCB position that needs to be cemented. Luiz is a stop gap, Holding to me is not a top 6 club defender. Maybe he’d probably prosper at an Everton or West Ham. Chambers, sell all day (and don’t give me this “oh, he plays CB, RB and DM…no. We need specialist players like Man City). As for Saliba, the jury’s still out since he basically hasn’t played for Arsenal.

    So to maintain a sort of transition within our defence I’d say let’s sell Chambers, release Luiz, bring back Saliba AND THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE, buy a world class mid age (24 – 27 years old) experienced defender.

    As for Holding, I’d keep for one more season for continuity on the RCB position since both Saliba and the new RCB will be new and Holding has kind of played with both Gabriel & Mari.

    Ideally, let’s aim to have 4 quality CB’s in the quad like Man City have but it’ll take time.

    1. Shine says:

      Spot on.

      PL is getting rougher n tougher. In the long run rotating key players and resting them are the keys for them to perform consistently n minimizing injury risks. Arsenal just dun enough good rotation players.
      That’s why MA is doing a good job given the players he have now and needs to rebuild.
      Some of us could maybe have abit more patience n forgiving of how’s Arsenal is performing averagely n look forward more next or 2 seasons.

  8. jon fox says:

    Patrick, Full backs are also defenders which you seem not to acknowledge, when talking only about CB’s. We badly need a real quality RB and to get Bellerin out for good. And some left footed cover at LB,to aid Tierney at times.

    We still need a TOP quality CB too, BUT I have long realised that will not be on the agenda, financially speaking.

  9. Steven Wilson says:

    Too many centre backs but need a right back and possibly a back up left back.

  10. O.T.S says:

    I strongly suggest that we buy a right back( get bellerin out) and a backup left back. We also need an attack minded midfielder. Can sell laca if suitable offer comes to aid the purchase of a new striker ( sb like rafinha).

  11. Sean says:

    We will be busy this summer according to Mikel, with some of the guys playing well out on loan they should have the chance to impress come pre season.

    But we also need money so I could see Bellerin (£25m), Torreira (£18m), Guendouzi (£18m), Elneny (£8), Luiz (Free), Lacazette (£22m), Chambers (£10m), Niles (£20m), Cabellos (Back To Madrid) & Nketiah/McGuin/Nelson (loans). “Example figures”

    1. Returns of Saliba & Dino to replace Luiz & Chambers.

    2. Sales of Elneny, Matteo, Lucas & Niles could get us a top drawer CM to play alongside Partey with Xhaka covering & Another season loan for Ødegaard.

    3. New RB & LB after Bellerin leaves.

    4. Nketiah goes on loan, Bologun signs a new deal to 1st team… Laca leaves to be replaced by Edouard from Celtic for £22m.

    Incomings;
    – Edouard & Bolugun
    – RB & LB
    – CM

    That would be busy to be fair.

    1. GunnerSince2004 says:

      Totally agree with those sales as they would generate about $120mil but I wouldnt loan out Nketiah, I’d sell him as he’s generating interest and commanding a decent $20mil. If we loan him and he flops, his interest from other clubs drops and value declines. Same for Willock, sell for 20mil

      So… what to do with $160mil (assuming it’s not used to pay off $120mil Covid loan):

      1. We need to replace Laca and Eddie:

      Edouard fits the profile (age, price, ability, adaptability to conditions in the UK, not injury) and if Kieren Tierney is anything to go by, he should be a hit at a modest $20mil + $5mil add-ons probably.

      Since Eddie will be gone, that opens up the way for Balogun to be the 3rd striker at $0mil as all we’re doing is adding 5k to Eddie’s wages of 35k per week to give him the 40k he’s demanding + a nice lengthy 5 year contract. Add that he’s home-grown. Nailed.

      And let’s not forget that Martinelli can play CF as well but I’d rather leave him to compete with Willian, Saka & Pepe (obviously rotating on the wings like Arteta likes) so we have depth of wingers.

      My only worry with those 2 strikers (Edouard & Balogun) is that is any one of them a target man or able to play like one because we need a “Giroud type” plan B as witnessed this season in some games.

      2. Right back:

      There are two obvious contenders here – Lamptey and Max Aarons and both are home-grown so they’re perfect to replace the outgoing home-grown Bellerin.

      But let’s look at pros vs cons for different scenarios for both:

      (i) Age:
      Max turned 21 in January
      Tariq will be 21 in September
      So it’s a tie

      (ii) Experience:
      Max has 111 senior appearances for Norwich
      Tarig has 20 senior appearances (1 Chelsea, 19 Brighton)
      1 point Max

      (iii) Height:
      Max 1.78m
      Tariq 1.64m
      1 point Max

      (iv) Contract length with current clubs:
      Max ’til 2024
      Tariq ’til 2025
      1 point Max (easier to negotiate with 3 years left than 4 years left)

      (v) Salary:
      Max currently earns 5k per week
      Tariq currently earns 35k per week
      1 point Max (easier and less risky to entice with higher salary)

      (vi) Market value:
      Both are valued in and around 20mil but….
      Max – Norwich won’t wanna sell when promoted as they look to survive and won’t necessarily need the money due to the over 100mil that promoted teams get. We’d have to pay over the odds.
      Tariq – If Brighton gets relegated they wont be in a hurry to sell either as they’ll be looking for an immediate return to EPL plus relegated teams a “cushion” payment to afford their EPL cost structures. Add to that Tariq has a sell-on clause where Chelsea get 20% of any proceeds of sale. So again, we’d have to overpay.
      I say if we negotiate well, 30mil should cut it all things being equal but because of Tariq’s sell-on clause there could be a premium of 7.5mil on him so Brighton receive their 30mil in full.
      1 point Max (cheaper)

      (vii) Fitness:
      Max – not injury prone
      Tariq – apparently injury prone
      1 point Max

      So there it is, Max 6 points and then 1 tie.

      The other RB will be Cedric and he’s sufficient enough for squad rotation.

      3. Left back

      We don’t necessarily need an expensive cover as we have Kieren Tierney who’s world class in my opinion.

      We can get a decent freebie like we did with Cedric on right back and one such freebie (though currently injured, like Cedric was lol) is Juan Bernat of PSG who is only 28 years old. Perfect age to get him on the cheap in terms of salary as he’ll be back up and should not play a lot of important games. His salary though is rumoured to be 100k per week so that could be a put off as it might end up being Kolasinac 2.0.

      Another freebie is Ryan Bertrand, home grown and all, a bit cheaper at 70k per week currently but is turning 32 in August.

      Then there’s Patrick van Aanholt, cheapest at 55k per week currently and turning 31 in August.

      I personally don’t like those ages and salaries so I think let’s promote Joel Lopez from our academy here. He’ll make mistakes but hey we promoted Bellerin at a young age and initially before his ACL injury he was great. It’s a gamble worth taking. Joel will be developed in Arteta’s vision. He currently earns 2,1k per week, yes 2,1k per week. Transfer fee $0mil

      4. Centre Mid:

      If we sell El Neny and return Ceballos to Madrid, we’d only have Partey and Xhaka as our CM (I consider ESR and MO to be CAMs, assuming we re-loan MO of course). That leaves us wanting in that department unless we keeping Willock who frankly ain’t good enough if we’re serious about competing with the Man Cities.

      In a nut shell, we need 2 young top drawer upcoming CMs. I think we can promote one from the academy (Azeez) and make another high profile purchase. Say 50mil. Xhaka and Partey are 28 and can be our senior CMs though we could eventually wean out Xhaka and blend in the new 50mil CM while allowing opportunities for Azeez in Carabao Cup, FA Cup and (hopefully not) Europa (if we don’t make UCL).

      5. Centre Back:

      Luiz is honestly our most senior experienced CB hate it or love. If we release him I say we get an experienced right-footed world class defender in the 24 to 26 years old range. I say 50mil for that . That defender can partner Mari rotating with Gabriel while the new CB rotates with Saliba.

      TOTAL PLAYERS OUT = 160MIL

      TOTAL PLAYERS IN = 155MIL

      NET SPEND = (5MIL)

      Use the 5mil to improve contracts of ESR and Saka

      TEAM FOR 2021/22 SEASON:

      Aubameyang
      (Edouard 25m, Balogun (Free))

      Martinelli – Odegaard – Saka
      (Willian) (ESR) (Pepe)

      CM 50m – Partey
      (Xhaka) (Azeez) (Free)

      Tierney – Gabriel – RCB 50m – Aarons 30m
      (Lopez) (Mari) (Saliba) (Cedric)
      (Free)

      Leno
      (Ryans)

      OTHER 7 SQUAD PLAYERS:

      1. Runarsson
      2. Holding
      3. Ballard
      4. Rekik
      5. Hutchinson
      6. Akinola
      7. Moller

      1. McLovin says:

        I would definitely sell Xhaka. He has extended his stay here for too long and lately, he’s been in good form. When players are in good form, they are easier to sell. If we wait another year, Xhaka will be 30 and our hopes of getting something will diminish.

        We know Xhaka’s limitations and should act while we still can. Replace him with Koopmeiners of AZ and we might not even make any loss on the transactions.

      2. Sean says:

        Brilliant Assesment. Promoting Azeez (CM), Lopez (LB), Moller (CF) is smart also.

        We can make a massive move this summer in the right direction if we get these deals done.

        1. ozziegunner says:

          Sean, Yves Bissouma from Brighton & Hove Albion to partner Thomas Partey.

  12. The Hyena says:

    Transfer window going to be tricky especially since we can only have 17 non home grown players in the squad.

    Will also mean club might be reluctant to cash in on the likes of Chambers, Maitland-Niles, Willock, Nketiah, Nelson and Bellerin (also home grown).

    Think we might sign Ryan permanently, similar to Mari and Soares deals who came in on loan in January and then made permanent in summer.

    Andre Silva who we have been linked with recently as a replacement for Lacazette looks very exciting!

    1. McLovin says:

      I think this season our HG’s are:

      Bellerin, Chambers, Holding, Saka, ESR, Nketiah, Nelson and someone from Academy.

      If we can get Balogun to sign and promote someone like Azeez, we can depart ways with 2 HG’s like Chambers and Nketiah.

      I think one of Willock/AMN will return and other one will be sold to make for HG quota.

      If Bellerin is sold, we need to replace him with another HG.

      I would still go for Tyrick Mitchell as back up LB for Tierney. He’s young, free in the summer, HG, good enough to be Palace’s #2 so he’s good enough to be back up for KT and develop.

  13. Joe. S says:

    Nothing more to add to what was already a no brainer. There are plenty of options already available within the club to cover these positions. This is a plus. Was recently listening to an Italian discussion, where it was agreed that Italy’s steady stream of great centre halves has dried up and how 30 million euros doesn’t get you much in terms of quality. Arsenal are then in an excellent position to focus their attention on other key areas, a back up wing back, creative support in the middle and a young gun centre forward who will be ready to step into Aubameyang’s shoes when old age hits.

  14. Sue says:

    OT.. Big game for the U23s this afternoon. Away at Southampton. We really need to get back to winning ways, as we’re only 4 points above the drop zone… COYG

    1. Sue says:

      2-0 up at half time. Finished 2-2.. what a bummer!

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