Arsene Wenger has recently confirmed that the impressive Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen has suffered another setback in training and is not likely to make a return for the Gunners in the near future. He has also clearly stated that he would have to sign a centre back in January to ease the pressure and work load on the other defenders.
With Arsene Wenger indicating that the Gunners need another centre back, it is likely that the French tactician will target someone who will add quality to the defence. In recent days, the Gunners have been linked with a number of centre backs including the likes of Christopher Samba, Gary Cahill and Per Mertesacker. Mertesacker was also linked with a move to the Emirates in the summer but Arsenal signed Laurent Koscielny and Sebastien Squillaci to replace the outgoing William Gallas and Sol Campbell.
Sebastien Squillaci has not been impressive so far while Koscielny is improving with experience. However it would be a great boost to their title hopes if they can sign a quality defender who has the experience. Squillaci has also sustained a hamstring injury which leaves Koscielny and Djourou as the only Centre Backs in the squad and the Swiss International cannot be risked in too many games.
This is the reason why Wenger will be forced to spend money in January though it is unsure whether they can attract a top quality defender to leave their club this month. German International Per Mertesacker has only 18 months still on his contract and could be tempted to move to a top European club like Arsenal at this stage of his career. Also, Werder Bremen are already out of the Champions League and are struggling in the Bundesliga.
Though the German International has insisted that he wants to concentrate on his club for now, he could still move in January if Arsenal make the right offer for the tall defender. Let us analyse the pros and cons in signing the experienced Germany defender.
Mertesacker is only 26 years of age and still has a long and bright career ahead of him. The German International is vastly experienced with more than 70 International caps to his name and is considered as one of the most consistent centre backs in the world. The fact that he has not yet signed for any top European club yet makes him a possible target for Arsenal who could get him at a lower price because he has only one more year running on his contract.
The tall defender would be a huge boost to Arsenal especially during set-piece situations where the Gunners have conceded some soft goals. The giant Centre Back is a leader at the back and his experience is invaluable to the team in the absence of Thomas Vermaelen. Also, he has got the knack of scoring from set-pieces for his team which makes him a goal scoring threat in such situations.
The Centre Back is very good in reading the game and making vital interceptions. He is a very fair player and is a good tackler. He has also got decent technical ability and his distribution of the ball is good. Mertesacker has shown that he has the ability to be a success in top clubs and with Werder currently struggling, he might look for a new challenge in England.
It is hard to find disadvantages in signing a quality centre back like Mertesacker but there are some things which Wenger might consider before splashing the cash on the German International. Mertesacker does not have too much pace and might take time to adjust to the pace of the Premier League. Also, he is not having the best of seasons at Werder Bremen and this could prove to be a major challenge for the defender considering that he will have to justify his hefty price tag. The German International will also be ineligible to play in the Champions League games for Arsenal because he represented Werder Bremen earlier in the competition.
Mertesacker will certainly be a great addition for the Gunners but his signing will spell the end of Sebastien Squillaci’s short Arsenal career who will probably be sold in the summer. This is because Wenger has identified that Koscielny has a lot of talent which is why he spent around £8.5 million to acquire his services. Thomas Vermaelen is Arsenal’s best defender while Johan Djourou has shown everyone that he has a bright future at Arsenal. Wenger might have to sell Squillaci in the summer and also, with four quality centre backs in the squad, it will be extremely difficult for talented youngsters Ignasi Miquel and Kyle Bartley to break into the first team.
One more factor which must be considered is the fact that the Gunners might have to be involved in a bidding war with many other clubs. Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea have all been linked with the defender which makes it harder for Arsenal to sign the defender on a bargain. However, Arsenal are a profit-making enterprise and Wenger will have enough money to spend in January.
The French tactician has been frustrated by the lack of titles in the last five years and that is one of the reasons why the Carling Cup has been considered seriously by Wenger. The reason why Arsenal’s title challenge faltered was mainly due to injuries to key players at important times in the season. With Vermaelen suffering a setback to his Achilles injury, Wenger might be cautious and will not take a gamble. Djourou has only just recovered completely from his injuries but it is better for him to have a lesser work load.
The addition of a quality defender could prove to be an excellent January signing for Arsenal and it will help them boost their chances of winning a trophy. Per Mertesacker’s calmness and experience will add a lot of quality to the defence and though Wenger may have to spend around £15 million, it would be worth the gamble if the Gunners can win a major trophy.