IF there’s one area where Arsenal need to strengthen in the summer transfer window, it is in defence. It doesn’t matter how good Aubameyang and Lacazette are going forward, Unai Emery needs a much stronger back line if he’s going to be able to build the Arsenal team he wants.
With that in mind, I want to run through three centre-backs who I’d love to see Arsenal go after this summer. Will we sign any? If the reports of only having a £45m budget are true, then probably not, but if Stan Kroenke all of a sudden decides he’d like to actually put some real money into Arsenal, here’s who I’d love to see Emery go after.
Firstly, somebody I’d consider both a realistic and excellent signing – Lewis Dunk from Brighton. He’s the sort of no-nonsense defender who Arsenal desperately need, the sort of centre-back who wouldn’t get pushed off the ball and who would dominate the box. Arsenal don’t have that sort of defender and we get bullied by other teams who expose that weakness.
At 27, Dunk is Premier League proven, has great presence and while somebody like Harry Maguire would be a far better ball playing centre-back, that’s not really what Arsenal need. We’ve got to back to basics, somebody like Tony Adams whose presence gave Arsenal the sort of fear factor we don’t have any more. Plus, at £30m or so, he’d be cheap compared to other options.
Another centre-back I’m a big fan of is Samuel Umtiti from Barcelona. Still only 25, Umtiti is a World Cup winner with Champions League experience at the very top level and rumours suggest Barcelona would be willing to sell him for £50m. What a signing that would be. Umtiti would be an injection of real quality into Arsenal’s defence which we currently lack.
There are concerns about Umtiti and the reason Barcelona might be willing to sell him is his injury record. In the last two years he’s missed a lot of games through injury and it would be a risk for Arsenal to sign him but what if it worked out? Arsenal would have a world class defender on their hands. Add in the fact he’s good friends with Alexandre Lacazette and you could really see him settling at Arsenal quickly.
Would the Gunners spend £50m on a defender? I doubt it, but until we do we’ll just be chasing the shadows of Manchester City and Liverpool, because the reality is that unless you spend big in the Premier League now you can’t win it. Arsenal need to show ambition and go after these sorts of signings.
And if all of a sudden Arsenal decided to spend the cash instead of letting it sit in the bank, I’d love them to go all out and sign Harry Maguire. For me, he’s the best English centre-back in the Premier League right now and the closest anybody is going to get to signing their own Virgil van Dijk.
Maguire doesn’t have the skills to be as good as Van Dijk but he’s got such presence and leadership that he’d improve pretty much any defence in the Premier League. He’s so powerful when it comes to aerial duels that Arsenal’s weakness would disappear with his arrival. Sure, he could do with a bit more pace (most defenders could) but he’s brilliant with the ball at his feet, and that would suit Arsenal.
I think he’s captain material and in an ideal world Arsenal would go after him. We should really have moved for him after the World Cup, that was our chance, but in a fantasy world he’d be my first choice defender for Arsenal to sign this summer.
Odds are Arsenal won’t sign any of these three players and we’ll still struggle to keep any clean sheets next year, but if by some miracle Stan Kroenke decides to properly invest in Arsenal, then any of these centre-backs would massively improve what Emery currently has to choose from.
Words by Robbie