06132021

5 players Arsenal could target to help provide cover at left-back


5 players Arsenal could target to help provide cover at left-back

Arsenal improving in the transfer market

It’s fair to say that, for the most part, Arsenal’s movement in the transfer market has improved a great deal in recent windows.

Granted, the Gunners have done some questionable business, such as signing an ageing Willian to a three-year deal.

But overall, Arsenal should be given credit for the work they have done in the last two windows.

The additions of Thomas Partey and Gabriel have been solid, with both no doubt set to be integral members of Mikel Arteta’s set-up for several years.

The loan signing of Martin Odegaard to help Arsenal’s creativity was also a shrewd bit of business, as was bringing in Matt Ryan as a temporary no.2.

And whilst Arsenal paying players such as Mesut Ozil and Shkodran Mustafi to leave the club in the winter window may have angered some fans, a case could certainly be made that it was the lesser of two evils, as both were most likely only set to sit on the sidelines and see out their contracts with the north Londoners anyway.

One bit of business Arsenal were unable to get done in the latest transfer window, though, was bringing in a natural left-back cover for Kieran Tierney.

The Scotsman is one of the Gunners’ top stars on his day, but he obviously cannot play every single game for Arteta and co., with his recent injury highlighting the need for reinforcements in that spot.

Cedric has done a decent job covering for the former Celtic standout in recent games. However, his poor pass to Gabriel and Saturday would gift Aston Villa an early goal. And he is also the cover for Hector Bellerin, and though Arsenal are likely to be able to see out the remainder of this season without extra cover at left-back, it is quite hard to see them getting through all of 2020/21 with the Portuguese as back-up to both Tierney and Bellerin.

Bukayo Saka is capable of filling in at left-back and has done so for Arsenal in the past, though that was largely in a back-five at wing-back.

And if Arteta is forced to play Saka at left-back, that, of course, diminishes the Gunners’ attacking threat.

So, though Arsenal probably don’t need to spend that much on a left-back in the summer, signing one does seem quite essential.

5 players Arsenal could target to help provide cover at left-back

LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 09: Kieran Tierney of Arsenal during the FA Cup Third Round match between Arsenal and Newcastle United at Emirates Stadium on January 9, 2021 in London, England. The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)

Home-grown talent

There are a number of avenues Arsenal could explore when aiming to find a back-up to Tierney.

One of these is searching out young, home-grown talent in the lower leagues.

A young player joining Arsenal from the Championship or lower would most probably be willing to deputise for Tierney, learning their trade from the Scotsman and playing in the cup or occasionally in the league when Tierney is suspended, injured or needs a rest.

At 101, we have found two potential options Arsenal could target that fill this criteria.

The first of which is Omar Richards. The 22-year-old is a product of Reading’s academy and he has spent his entire career to date with the Royals.

Richards would begin to establish himself as Reading’s first-choice left-back in 2019/20 and has since been one of their more impressive stars this term as they fight it out for a top-six finish.

One potential issue Arsenal may face when targeting Richards is reported interest from Bayern Munich.

The full-back is out of contract at the Madejski this summer, meaning that he can, of course, sign pre-contract agreements with foreign sides already.

And towards the beginning of January, it was indeed claimed that Richards was closing in on a free transfer to the German champions.

However, things since appear to have gone quiet on the Bayern front. Of course, they could still come back in for the stopper at any time, but if Arsenal are able to beat the Germans to Richard’s signature, they would be getting a solid, home-grown back-up option who is only likely to improve further for free.

The second home-grown youngster Arsenal could potentially look at is Lee Buchanan.

The 19-year-old has spent his entire career to date at Derby County, where he is now their no.1 left-back.

Buchanan has less experience than Richards and is probably not quiet as polished. He is also under contract until 2022, meaning the Gunners would have to pay a sum if they target him this summer.

However, the full-back would still no doubt be a decent understudy to Tierney, with the Derby man more than capable of getting forward and contributing in attack.

Experienced Premier League stars

The second avenue Arsenal could potentially explore when eyeing a new left-back is targeting more experienced players whom they can sign on the cheap or for three, much like they did with Cedric recently.

And the north Londoners do appear to have been already looking at a couple of players who fulfil this criteria.

During the latest winter window, Arsenal were linked with both Crystal Palace’s Patrick van Aanholt and Southampton’s Ryan Bertrand.

Both players have a plethora of Premier League experience and have proven they are more than capable of being first-choice at midtable sides.

They are also both, as of writing, out of contract in the summer, meaning Arsenal would, of course, land them for free.

And given they are currently at average PL sides, it is hard to see their wage demands being astronomically high, unlike say Willian, who reportedly nets a base-salary of over £100,000-a-week at Arsenal.

Also, should Arsenal indeed look to sign an ageing star on the cheap, they should be cautious of offering too long a deal, again like with Willian, who is 32 and has another two and a half years left on his contract.

Versatility

Finally, when searching for a new left-back in the summer, Arsenal may opt to sign someone who can play in multiple positions.

For example, recent reports from Germany have credited the Londoners with an interest in Evan N’Dicka.

The 21-year-old Frenchman is currently honing his craft in the Bundesliga with Eintracht Frankfurt, for whom he is now a regular starter.

N’Dicka is a centre-back by trade, but he is also more than capable of playing as a left-back.

So, N’Dicka could be used as cover at both centre-back, which may be needed once David Luiz’s contract is up in the summer, or at left-back when Tierney needs a rest or is injured.

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Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 Manchester City FC 21 26 47
2 Manchester United FC 22 19 44
3 Leicester City FC 22 14 42
4 Liverpool FC 22 18 40
5 West Ham United FC 22 6 38
6 Chelsea FC 22 13 36
7 Everton FC 20 6 36
8 Aston Villa FC 21 12 35
9 Tottenham Hotspur FC 21 12 33
10 Arsenal FC 23 4 31
11 Leeds United 21 -2 29
12 Southampton FC 21 -7 29
13 Crystal Palace FC 22 -10 29
14 Wolverhampton Wanderers FC 22 -8 26
15 Brighton & Hove Albion FC 22 -5 24
16 Newcastle United FC 22 -14 22
17 Burnley FC 21 -15 22
18 Fulham FC 21 -14 14
19 West Bromwich Albion 22 -34 12
20 Sheffield United FC 22 -21 11
Player Team Goals
Salah, Mohamed Liverpool FC 15
Kane, Harry Tottenham Hotspur FC 12
Fernandes, Bruno Manchester United FC 12
Son, Heung Min Tottenham Hotspur FC 12
Calvert-Lewin, Dominic Everton FC 12
Vardy, Jamie Leicester City FC 11
Bamford, Patrick Leeds United 11
Wilson, Callum Newcastle United FC 10
Watkins, Ollie Aston Villa FC 10
Zaha, Wilfried Crystal Palace FC 9
Rashford, Marcus Manchester United FC 8
Lacazette, Alexandre Arsenal FC 8
Soucek, Tomas West Ham United FC 8
Sterling, Raheem Manchester City FC 7
Ings, Danny Southampton FC 7
Mane, Sadio Liverpool FC 7
Barnes, Harvey Leicester City FC 7
Gundogan, Ilkay Manchester City FC 7
Maupay, Neal Brighton & Hove Albion FC 7
Grealish, Jack Aston Villa FC 6



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