Connect in the back of the net

Having sustained a knee injury in a friendly against Lens, Per Mertesacker will be on the sidelines until the first half of the nascent Premier League season.

Subsequently, Arsene Wenger, who has lately become outspoken about transfer dealings, admitted that Arsenal would look “to bring somebody in” with considerable “experience” in the coming weeks.

After bringing down 20-year-old Rob Holding from Bolton Wanderers in a £2.5 million deal, Arsenal seemed fixated on signing a centre-forward as evidenced by their failed attempt to land Alexandre Lacazette.

However, an unfortunate injury to their newly crowned skipper Mertesacker has prompted a hunt for a centre-back, who can steady the ship in his absence.

Here are five defenders Arsenal could look at:


Shkodran Mustafi

At 24 years of age, Shkodran Mustafi has already amassed 107 starts in Serie A and the Primera Division for Sampdoria and Valencia; he has also featured in Champions League and Europa League rather regularly.

Although he played only a little over 100 minutes for Germany in 2014 World Cup, his winner’s medal underlines his credentials.

Known for his knack for interceptions and positional awareness, he can take Mertesacker’s responsibilities up effectively.

Whilst playing alongside the more-advanced Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel Paulista, his conventionalism will help the north London club establish a balance at the back.

Of all the five potential targets discussed, he seems the most likely to become Arsenal’s fourth signing of the summer as his club, Valencia, are attempting to flog him for a fee (£25.3 million) much less than his release clause (£42.1 million) to balance the books.


Fabian Schar

Arsenal were reported to have identified Fabian Schar as a transfer target in the wake of Mertesacker’s injury by many English news outlets.

They have been linked with him for a while now; they may have already enquired Hoffenheim about his availability.

However, despite his outstanding European Championship campaign with Switzerland, he hardly seems the finished product. Wenger’s insistence on bringing in an experienced player will avert any serious bid for him.

Should Arsenal still proceed to lure him to Emirates Stadium, a section of the Arsenal faithful will be left infuriated, as they could have snapped him up on a free last summer.


Kalidou Koulibaly

Arsenal have a perfect long-term Mertesacker replacement in the form of the 25-year-old Senegalese tank.

He stands at over 6 feet 4 inches tall and is more aggressive than Mertesacker himself.

Should he fine-tune his traits – and more decisively, move to Ashburton Grove – he can form a long-lasting partnership with Calum Chambers, who is an excellent reader of the game.

Chelsea appear to be in the driving seat for the services of Kalidou Koulibaly, but their interest will fend off any potential interest from Arsenal as Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis told on Thursday that the 13-time English top-flight champions will not outgun local rivals in the market.

He will cost upwards of £38 million, and given Arsenal’s need for a striker signing, Wenger may overlook him to pursue cheaper alternatives.


Semih Kaya

The British media are quiet about the Semih Kaya links, but the reports from Turkish publications state that Arsenal are weighing up a move for the 25-year-old centre-back.

A mainstay in the Galatasaray team, he is known for his passing; he can also play as a fullback.

He is valued at a measly £8.4 million, and given the fact that Arsenal are striving to mould Chambers, Gabriel, and Holding, his arrival will boost their development, as the above-mentioned trio’s significance will fall steeply with the arrival of an abler centre-back.


Kostas Manolas

Arsenal had been heavily linked with a summer move for Kostas Manolas, but complications over his contract with Roma put off a transfer.

Although he boasts the tools to become a world-class centre-back, the 2015 Community Shield winners cannot convince Roma to sell him, as the Stadio Olimpico club should give 50 percent of the transfer fee to his former club Olympiakos if they sold him this summer.

Enquiries in football are far more common than what popular belief might say.

Thus, Arsenal may try adding him to their ranks as they bid to head into the 2016/17 campaign with a strong line-up; however, they will need to break their transfer record.


Written by Praveen Paramasivam

Follow Praveen on Twitter @49Praveen

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