Arsenal are linked with interest in a number of defenders this summer as they look to bring in reinforcements to their backline.
The Gunners endured a difficult first half of the season in 2012 but, after manager Arsene Wenger opted to drop captain Thomas Vermaelen, his pairing at central defence of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny did exceptionally well, conceding fewer goals as a unit than any other pair in the Premier League in 2013.
However, the almost-certain outgoings of Sebastien Squillacci and Johan Djourou who look likely to be part of Wenger’s cull this summer at the Emirates means the French boss will be requiring the services of an adequate replacement for either and or both of them – ideally he’ll want to improve on what he’s got.
The Gunners have been linked in recent months with Swansea City captain Ashley Williams. The 28-year-old Wales centre-back had a fine season at the Liberty Stadium under Michael Laudrup and is linked with both Arsenal and Liverpool.
Speaking of which, Liverpool centre-back Martin Skrtel has also emerged as a reported target of Arsenal’s in recent weeks. The 28-year-old Slovakian has become something of a Kop favourite, developing into a solid and reliable presence in the Reds’ backline.
The question is, given the choice, who would Arsenal fans prefer? Skrtel has developed into a fine Premier League defender over his 5 years at Anfield. Of course, subsequently, he would likely be the pricier option for the infamously miserly Wenger.
But you get what you pay for oftentimes and Skrtel’s experience speaks for itself. He would be a quality addition in terms of his technical ability but, more importantly, especially for Arsenal, his leadership qualities could be just what the Gunners need.
However, for around half his valuation, Williams is arguably just as mentally strong as Skrtel, if not more so – he is the Swans’ captain, he’s the same age and he’s actually won roughly the same amount of trophies as Skrtel (both have League Cup winners medals only).
He has shown this season his great character and ambition as well as his work-rate and quality as a defender. For around £7 million Arsenal could have another quality addition to their defence department and he might just be able to wipe that commitment and attitude onto some of the other players in Arsenal’s dressing room.
For example, most notably, current captain Vermaelen who had a pretty dismal season by his own standards. Skrtel would be the kind of signing Arsenal should make only if they sell Vermaelen which, even thought the suggestion ahs been mooted, I don’t think will happen.
Williams would be the kind of quality addition to build on what Wenger already has at his disposal and, for around half the price Liverpool would want for even considering selling the Slovakian.
Plus, Williams is already an Arsenal legend for his ‘near-decapitation’ of Robin van Persie. That alone has got to be worth the £7 million to Gooners, hasn’t it?
image: © wonker