Five defenders Arsenal could sign to replace Vermaelen

Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen is heavily transfer-linked with Manchester United but who could come in to replace the Gunners’ centre back?

1) Ashley Williams

The 28-year-old Arsenal captain is linked with a potential £10 million move Old Trafford – that kind of figure could be enough to finance a deal to bring long-time target Ashley Williams in from Swansea. The 29-year-old Swans’ skipper would bring experience and quality to add strength in depth. The Welshman enters the final year of his contract this month and could be available for around half the fee a sale of Vermaelen would bring in.

2) Steven Caulker

The Gunners have also been linked with Cardiff centre back Caulker. The former Tottenham youngster would represent a purchase for the future and could develop his game understudying first-choice pairing Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny. He already has Premier League experience and, for his age, is a reliable and consistent performer for Cardiff whose resolve would likely be tested by an offer around £11 million.

3) Dejan Lovren

The 24-year-old Croatia international impressed for Southampton this term in his debut season in the Premier League. Subsequently, he is a reported target of Liverpool and has even been linked with Barcelona but Arsenal could potentially hijack a deal if they were so inclined. He has experience and quality in abundance and could potentially command a fee of around £15 million but would represent an improvement on the current Gunners skipper.

4) Jan Vertonghen

Likewise, Vermaelen’s national team competitor has been linked with a move away from Tottenham in recent weeks after a disappointing season. He already tends to be preferred to Vermaelen for Belgium for whom he sits alongside Vincent Kompany – the issue would of course be Spurs’ reluctance to let him go to their biggest rival.

5) Benedikt Howedes

Outside the Premier League, Schalke enforcer Howedes is a top-level defender who could be available for around £15 million. The 6ft 2inches tall Germany international combines quality and experience and could likely have his head turned by a move to the Premier League.

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