Sakho or Papadopoulos - The Emirates or Anfield?

Both Arsenal and Liverpool have been linked in recent weeks with two of the most exciting young defenders on the continent but which one would better suit each club?

21-year-old Greek centre-back Kyriakos Papadopoulos has been a reported ‘target’ of Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers’ for a number of months now. The 6ft Schalke youngster has emerged as one of the Bundesliga’s finest prospects since his arrival in 2010 from Olympiakos.

Meanwhile, 23-year-old centre-back Mamadou Sakho has falling down the pecking order this season in his hometown of Paris since the arrivals of Thiago Silva and Alex at Paris Saint-Germain.

Sakho had formerly been one of France’s most exciting prospects but his lack of regular first-team starts in the French capital have become a serious concern for him, especially with his place for the national team under challenge by the likes of Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny and Real Madrid youngster Raphael Varane ahead of next year’s World Cup in Brazil.

Liverpool saw the retirement of veteran defender Jamie Carragher at the end of this season and, whilst the Merseyside club have brought in former Arsenal man Kolo Toure on a free transfer from Manchester City, to join first-choice central defensive pairing Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel, the Reds may still require reinforcements in that department.

Arsenal, meanwhile, have released another France international in Sebastien Squilacci who has rarely featured for the Gunners in recent seasons and young Johan Djourou appears to have joined Hamburg on loan for the next season after impressing at Bundesliga side Hannover this year.

The Gunners have been heavily linked with Swansea City and Wales captain Ashley Williams but, as I have discussed recently, Arsene Wenger already has Koscielny and Per Mertesacker, along with captain Thomas Vermaelen who has spent the back end of the season on the bench due to the former pairing’s form and fitness.

What Arsenal really need is a quality youngster who can provide cover and is looking to challenge the first-choice pairing and keep the on their toes. Djourou could have fit that shoe but he wants regular first-team action. If Sakho is look for regular first-team football ahead of the World Cup it makes little sense for him to join Arsenal where he would still be fourth choice effectively.

It also, in my estimation, makes little sense for Wenger to sign Williams for the very same reason. Liverpool have been more strongly linked with Papadopoulos in recent months but I would think Sakho would be a more astute signing for Rodgers, given that the club have already got a number of youngsters ardently trying to gain access to the first team. Sakho would be the ideal competition for Agger and Skrtel to ensure their form remains at a consistently high standard.

Kolo Toure can replace Carragher’s experience in the dressing room and provide necessary cover but Sakho would undoubtedly be the one challenging for a regular first-team place with the other two.

Papadopoulos would be better off at Arsenal where there really isn’t a young centre-back ready to impress and improve – Ignasi Miquel likely needs to go out on loan to get regular top level football and Arsenal are now short of two senior options as cover.

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