At present, the Gunners have three quality centre-backs in captain Thomas Vermaelen, Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny – the latter pair putting in a number of outstanding performances for Arsenal this season.
Whilst the skipper lost his place in Wenger’s line-up that was largely due to the form and fitness of the other two – all three are top notch defenders in the prime of their careers and enjoyed injury-free seasons this term.
However, with Squilacci’s release and Johan Djourou expected to be moved on by his own admission, Wenger cannot expect all three first-choice defenders to be available to quite the extent they have been this season – injury and suspension can cause chaos in to a backline and the French boss will need to make at least one addition this summer.
Whilst he is reportedly interested in Swansea captain, 27-year-old Ashley Williams who had a fantastic season at the Liberty Stadium this term under Michael Laudrup, perhaps Wenger could be tempted to revert back to bringing in the best on offer from his native France.
He’s already convinced young French striker Yaya Sanogo to join the North Londoners and could be on the verge of bringing his compatriot Clement Grenier to the Emirates as well.
Meanwhile, in the French capital, 23-year-old Mamadou Sakho has entered the final year of his contract with Paris Saint-Germain where he has slipped down the pecking order somewhat since the arrival of Thiago Silva and Alex as I discussed earlier on in the season.
Despite his tender age Sakho has already made almost 200 appearances for PSG since breaking through the youth ranks in 2007. He’s earned 13 caps for France senior team at international level, has a decent share of Champions League experience, has won the Ligue 1 title and two domestic cups.
He was voted Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year in 2011 and is expected to be a regular first-team starter for his country over the next decade. He also, conveniently, has already built up a good relationship with his France teammates Laurent Koscielny and Bacary Sagna.
However, Sakho and Koscielny may well find themselves as each other’s competition by the time the World Cup finals kick off in Brazil next year – the emergence of Raphael Varane at Real Madrid, and the stronghold of AC Milan’s Phillipe Mexes.
Sakho is unlikely to do himself any favours by remaining in Paris - he’s not going to get regular access to first-team football with the Ligue 1 champions and he’s rumoured to be eyeing a switch to super-rich AS Monaco.
The French champions will likely be looking to sell him due to his imminently expiring contract and, with Arsene Wenger’s superb record of developing the best of France talent, Sakho could be tempted by a move to the Premier League, as he has stated himself previously.
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