Sometimes someone send in an e-mail that totally catches you by surprise. This morning I’ve got a guest post from Graham Yates about the leaky defence and the best way to go about plugging it.
A super read, enjoy… Geoff will be back on at 0900 with the Villa match preview.
Arsene was given another reminder of the recurring defensive frailties as we lost to Sporting Braga 2-0 in Tuesday night’s UEFA Champions League Group H match to leave us with a bit more work to do to secure safe passage to the round of 16. Interestngly, as I write this, in our current predicament we are only likely to draw one out of these four Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich or Schalke & possibly Lyon.
Granted, injuries haven’t been kind to The Prof, but irrespective of the sidelined Thomas Vermaelen , surely even he is aware that sooner rather than later he will have to find some experienced centre halves which, as well as TV5, includes 30 year old (was once good, but now not so good ) Sebastien Squillaci and 25 year French novice Laurent Koscielny , not to mention Johann Djourou who has been the most consistent and impressive of the three.
Wenger has been linked with moves for Bolton’s Gary Cahill, Brede Hangeland & Phil Jagielka all with Premisership experience, but was quoted a price he was not prepared to pay, as usual. You know how it goes, £4m for Schwarzer, but refuses to pay more than £2.5m, I mean, words fail me.
I have picked out five other centre-halves I feel AW should look at landing. They are all within budget & also age range so I think they are viable options as they are at smaller clubs than Arsenal and just on the verge of long international careers. All the ingredients are there.
Federico Fazio (Argentina)
DOB: 17.3.87 (23)
Height: 1.95cm (6”4)
Value Euros: €7.5m to €10m
The Argentine with Italian citizenship is a complete defender with huge potential. He replaced Squillaci on his departure to the Emirates and appears to have a fantastic future in the game. Fazio can play as a central defender, on the left flank (Bye Gael!) and, like at the end of the 2007/8 season, as a defensive midfielder (Bye Denny!).
He is extremely strong and has very good heading ability. He is also quite fast and mobile for such a big defender, and his tackling ability is superb. His still could do with improving his technique and aggression though. Yet to make his debut for Argentina, but has experience at Under 20 & Under 23 level and has come through Sevilla’s youth ranks though has suffered a few injuries in his early career. We all know that Wenger likes a rough diamond, he is one.
Fernando Amorebieta (Spain)
Club: Athletic Bilbao
DOB: 29.3.1985 (25)
Height: 1.92 (6”3)
Value: €10m to €15m
The Spaniard (though born in Venezuela) is an immensely strong central defender with excellent positional sense. He is fast and tall, which is a tough combination for opposing strikers to come up against. He has super-strong tackles and great vision for a centre back.
Amorebieta is a versatile defender, who can also play at left-back (Oh dear Gael, not looking good is it?) , and if he continues improving at his current rate, he will be a top, top player. Made debut @ 20 and has played 144 times in the Spanish Primera Liga to date which makes him a consistent Bilbao 1st teamer. Likely to replace ageing Puyol, Capdevila & Marchena and join Pique & Albiol in the Spanish squad after being 1st called up by Del Bosque in August 2008.
Adil Rami (France)
Height: 1.90 (6”2)
Value: €7.5m to €10m
Only ardent Lille supporters saw the potential of the Frenchman until then-coach Claude Puel gave him his first Ligue 1 minutes on the first day of the 2007-08 season after being bought from Fourth Division Fréjus. By the autumn, Rami had already become an essential component of the Lille defence playing in no less than 104 games scoring 7 goals. He is an extremely stubborn defender, with excellent positional sense and superb distribution and like Vermaelen has free kicks in his locker. His performances caught the eye of current France coach Laurent Blanc, and Domenech before him. Now has six international caps, and Rami looks like remaining at the heart of the France defence for years to come.
David Luiz (Brazil)
Height: 1.88 (6”1)
Value: €20m to €30m (Wenger has this sort of money we know that, though value rather inflated as Chel$ki & Etihad City are very interested)
The Brazilian is one of the most promising centre-backs in the world, with Internazionale his likely destination at this stage. Luiz is strong, fast and intelligent, and has the ability to move the ball with grace. He is also blessed with a great leap and good heading abilities and even played primarily at left back in the 2008-2009 season at Benfica. Luiz has such potential that even an injury-plagued two years he suffered from 2007-2008 shouldn’t scare off Wenger. Post World Cup he is now a regular with Brazil and now has 4 caps replacing the ageing and outgoing Roma defender Juan.
Height: 1.87 (6”2)
Value: €7.5m to €10m
The German is a tall and aggressive centre-back, who is also quick and very good in the air at both ends of the pitch. He started to feature in the 2007/08 season and has been at the club since 2001, but really began to show his abilities the following campaign. Howedes is a versatile player, having plied his trade as a defensive midfielder as a youth player, while also possessing the capability to play as a full-back so much so that he has signed a new deal to June 30th 2014. With more experience, the 22-year-old should get even better and has already made 72 appearances for Schalke and has German caps at all levels from Under 18 through to Under 21’s. He is also right footed which which would compliment the left of Vermaelen, something which Wenger would find attractive. Of the five he looks the most likely to join.