After wrapping up the Granit Xhaka transfer early into the transfer window, Arsenal’s transfer activity implied they were only looking to add a world-class striker to their roster.
Whilst the club officials began a game of poker in their attempts to land one, their first-choice right centre-back and skipper, Per Mertesacker, sustained a knee injury in a pre-season friendly against RC Lens that would keep him out of action at least until January 2017.
Accordingly, the trajectory of their transfer business has drastically changed, with the manager admitting that he would look to add an experienced centre-back to the roster in the coming weeks.
Whether signing a centre-back was on Wenger’s to-do list before Mertesacker’s injury is unknown, but the German’s injury may as well turn out to be a blessing in disguise in the long term.
After the departure of Robin van Persie, Arsenal careers of the captain’s armband bearers have always had somewhat unceremonious ends, with former skippers in Thomas Vermaelen and Mikel Arteta spending more time on the bench than on the pitch in their final season at Ashburton Grove.
By the looks of things, Per Mertesacker should be bracing himself for a similar end, with his current contract expiring next summer.
On top of the expiration of his contract, his age calls out for a replacement. Turning 32 next month, Per Mertesacker will likely become slower than he already is with the passage of time.
Although he has always relied solely upon his reading of the game and positioning, Premier League is a competition, which hardly spares any slow defender. He will only endure more criticism as he struggles against pacy attackers.
No proper replacement
Many observers alleged that his red card against Chelsea in January — he took down Diego Costa after the Spaniard had outpaced him – all but ended his chances of ever becoming a first-team regular at Arsenal, but injuries and a string of poor performances from Gabriel Paulista ensured Per Mertesacker made his way back into the team.
Whilst his ability to get back into the starting eleven highlighted his prowess, it also exposed the non-availability of immediate top-notch replacements.
Arsenal have brought down Rob Holding, Bolton Wanderer’s Player of the Season for the 2015/16 campaign, but he is too green to be incorporated into the plans for the upcoming season.
In addition, despite his solid performances, Calum Chambers needs to be assessed via a loan spell at an English top-flight club.
In addition, Gabriel seems a lost cause in light of his lack of cohesion with teammates on the pitch and frequent gaffes.
A blessing in disguise
With no ready-to-go replacement lined up, Arsenal may enter the next summer’s transfer market in a desperate need for centre-backs.
Arsenal’s desperate need for a striker this summer has triggered a different level of anxiety amongst their supporters, and fans might not want to go through a similar roller-coaster ride next summer.
Besides, current transfer dealings involving English clubs have proved that clubs from other countries see Premier League clubs as money-printing machines.
Clubs will look to capitalise on Arsenal’s need, forcing them to overpay.
Mertesacker’s injury has offered Arsenal a chance to avert such a scenario, and the new signing will get a chance to mesh with the team whilst the soon-to-be former first-choice right centre-back is still on Arsenal’s books.
Written by Praveen Paramasivam
Follow Praveen on Twitter @49Praveen
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