Top 10 candidates to replace Djourou at Arsenal

Arsenal are reported to have allowed defender Johan Djourou to sign a permanent deal to stay on at Hamburg, leaving a vacancy for an up-and-coming young centre back to join the Gunners.

1) Eliaquim Mangala

(1.2 Tackles Per Game, 1.8 Aerial Duels Won Per Game, 85.7% Pass Completion)

One of the most talked about young players on the continent over the last 12 months is 23-year-old France international Mangala who is subsequently valued around £20 million by FC Porto. He would be a fantastic signing for Arsenal and a great player to see in the Premier League but I doubt Arsene Wenger would spend that much money to bring him in and, even if he was prepared to, there will be a lot of other top clubs willing to outbid the Gunners.

2) Kyriakos Papadopoulos

(0.8 Tackles Per Game, 0.5 Aerial Duels Won Per Game, 100% Pass Completion)

I think this 22-year-old Greek international is much more in Wenger’s price range. The Schalke defender brings experience and quality in abundance for around the same price as Wenger has spent previously on his centre backs, £10.5 million and I think he wouldn’t take too much convincing to join Arsenal, however his injury record could be a red flag.

3) Joel Matip

(2.2 Tackles Per Game, 4.3 Aerial Duels Won Per Game, 79.9% Pass Completion)

His teammate at Schalke and Cameroon international is valued slightly higher at around £11.5 million with his contract also expiring in 2016 – either one of the two Schalke youngsters would be ideal for Wenger to have understudy Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny.

4) Samuel Umtiti

(1.8 Tackles Per Game, 2 Aerial Duels Won Per Game, 85.1% Pass Completion)

A less-know starlet, although likely on Wenger’s radar, is France under-21 centre-back Umtiti currently impressing at Lyon. His contract runs until 2017 and the Ligue 1 side would likely put up a fight to keep hold of him but he is valued around £7 million and that is the kind of fee Wenger would probably pay to bring in a young player of his quality.

5) Matthias Ginter

(1.5 Tackles Per Game, 3.6 Aerial Duels Won Per Game, 85.8% Pass Completion)

Probably the most exciting young defensive talent in the Bundesliga is 20-year-old Matthias Ginter and, at £8.8 million as his valuation, Freiburg are likely to struggle to keep him this summer. The already senior German international is yet another hot prospect who could understudy Per Mertesacker, in fact the Germany connection may be an avenue Wenger could use to bring him to the Emirates.

6) Nicolas N’Koulou

(2 Tackles Per Game, 2 Aerial Duels Won Per Game, 88.3% Pass Completion)

We know how much Wenger loves to bring in the best from Ligue and he couldn’t get much better than this Cameroon international and Marseille centre back. At 24, he has plenty of experience at the top level, including in the Champions League and is valued around £11.5 million.

7) Fabian Schar

(3.5 Tackles Per Game, 2.5 Aerial Duels Won Per Game, 79.2% Pass Completion)

Djourou’s Switzerland colleague Schar is 22 years of age and currently making waves at Basel where they have a habit of nurturing young defensive talents. He is valued around £7 million and enters the last year of his contract this summer and if I had to pick one of these ten, I’d probably say he’d be a good shout.

8) Inigo Martinez

(1.3 Tackles Per Game, 1.9 Aerial Duels Won Per Game, 82.7% Pass Completion)

Another would be 22-year-old Real Sociedad stopper Martinez who at 22 years of age is already a senior Spain international. For £10.5 million and with plenty of experience in La Liga, he could very well be the next Gerard Pique over the course of the next decade. In fact, a switch to the Premier League would probably improve him.

9) Eric Dier

It’s unusual to have English players making waves abroad, especially at the tender age of 20 but Eric Dier is doing just that at Sporting Lisbon B where they value him around £4 million. An England U21 international, he could very well be the kind of player to add to that British core at the Emirates and his time spent in Portugal will have certainly improved him.

10) Aymeric Laporte

(2.2 Tackles Per Game, 2.6 Aerial Duels Won Per Game, 81.4% Pass Completion)

Finally, is 19-year-old Laporte who is a France U21 international currently on the books at Athletic Bilbao. Valued around £8.8 million, he would be tricky to prize away from the La Liga outfit given that his contract runs until 2018 but for a youngster of his potential, it would likely pay dividends in the future.

Register for ARSENAL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch